Pyeongchang 2018

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USA score major surprise with cross-country gold

The USA have pulled off a shock triumph by taking gold in the ladies’ team sprint free cross-country final.

Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall overhauled the traditional powerhouses of the sport to claim a first ever medal for American women in cross-country skiing.

Sweden took silver 0.19 seconds behind the US’s winning time of 15 minutes 56.47 seconds.

Norway came home for bronze – giving Marit Bjorgen her 14th Olympic medal.

Bjorgen now becomes the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time.

The 37-year-old has one more medal than her compatriot, the biathlete Ole Einar Bjorndalen.

Perfectly-timed finish

The USA had already given warning of their credentials by setting the fastest time in the semi finals.

In the final, Sweden, Norway and the US soon began establishing a sizeable gap between themselves and the rest of the field.

By the final exchange at the 6.25km mark, the trio were more than ten seconds clear.

There was no doubt who would be collecting the medals, but the order of the podium was very much up for grabs.

All three were together as they headed down the final hill and into the stadium.

Sweden’s Stina Nilsson led the way, but Jessica Diggins powered to the line with a perfectly-timed finish.

A pulsating end and an historic moment for the Americans.

Moments after the line had been crossed, Randall and Diggins fell in a heap on the snow.

The duo were beside themselves with joy and scarcely able to believe what they had done.

“This is probably the most excitement we’ve ever had,” Randall said, “It was really fun to race under the lights tonight and great to put on the (USA) face paint one more time.”

Olympic drought over

Although Diggins and Randall claimed gold together at the World Championships in 2013, Olympic success had always deserted them.

For Randall, this is her fifth appearance at a Winter Games and undoubtedly the sweetest.

Bill Koch won silver for the USA in cross-country skiing back in 1976, but this is the first time the US women have tasted success.



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