The last time an American won a medal in cross-country skiing was at the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria. They are gunning for Team USA's first-ever medal in Olympic cross-country skiing. For the USA, slopestyle gold medalist Jamie Anderson and 17-year-old Hailey Langland, who has won this event at the X Games, are strong contenders. The skiers beat the Swedish team (Charlotte Kalla and Stina Nilsson) by 0.19 seconds over the 4.66-miles race, finishing at a brisk 16:22.56.
The gold medal is especially significant for Diggins, who raced in four other events in Pyeongchang but fell short of the podium each time.
"I am very proud of our performance, I was really digging deep today to get the power over the last 100 meters, but today United States of America was too strong and I really think they deserve the gold medal", Nilsson said. But she redeemed herself Wednesday with a strong finish, surpassing her Norwegian competitors at the very end to clench the gold medal.
Jessie Diggins, 27, and Kikkan Randall, 35, won gold in this event at the world championships in 2013, the first Americans to do so. "I'm really happy for them and I also think that it's important for our sport too that they are there".
Diggins collapsed after crossing the finish line, and Randall rushed over to her teammate, embracing her as she lay exhausted on the snow. And the American team is deeper now.
In that story, which ran at the start of the Pyeongchang Games, Diggins told Russell, "We definitely have a chance at a medal".