Kikkan helps US win Olympic gold in cross-country team sprint
The USA won gold in the cross-country women's team sprint at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Wednesday, their first-ever medal in the discipline.
Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggins set a time of 15 minutes, 56.47 seconds in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with the latter beating Sweden's Stina Nilsson in a dramatic sprint finish.
Norway came a close third, earning Marit Bjorgen her 14th Olympic medal to become the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time.
“It’s been an incredible road and I really have to credit growing up in Alaska and my experience through high school at East, when I really learned that even when you compete in an individual sport, team is a huge component and team is what really made me thrive,” Randall said in a press availability Wednesday afternoon. “What’s been so cool is these girls. I’ve gotten to watch them grow up in the sport. I’ve learned as much from them as I hope they’ve learned from me and it’s what really motivated me to go for this fifth Olympics was to try and contribute to the team."
Here are the times:
USA (Kikkan Randall, Jessica Diggins)—15:56.47
Sweden (Charlotte Kalla, Stina Nilsson)—15:56.66
Norway (Marit Bjorgen, Maiken Caspersen Falla)—15:59.44
Bjorgen led the field into the first exchange ahead of the Olympic Athletes from Russia, but it quickly became apparent the race would boil down to a contest between Sweden, Norway and the USA, with the trio atop the standings at the second changeover.
On the third, Bjorgen turned the screw through the uphill section, but she failed to shake loose Kalla or Randall as a gap opened up on the field.
The three teams remained together into the fourth and fifth exchanges, while a brief challenge from Switzerland fell away.
NBC's Alex Azzi felt confident the trio would close out the podium positions, ensuring a medal for the United States:
Sweden's Nilsson looked to have fallen slightly on the final leg but made up the gap on the second uphill section and was first heading into the final stretch.
As Norway's Falla fell back, Diggins powered past sprint champion Nilsson to claim a memorable victory, per Eurosport UK:
Per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Randall also made history along with the U.S. as a team:
So too did Bjorgen, as her medal took her overall tally past compatriot Ole Einar Bjorndalen.
She'll have the opportunity to earn a 15th medal in the 30-kilometre event on Sunday.
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