Randall and Diggins dig deep to end United States wait for cross-country gold

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American cross-country skiing history was made and a 42-year Olympic medal drought ended.

Even before this gold, Randall and Diggins were pioneers for cross country in the U.S. Randall was the first woman to ever win a world cup title, and has been a part of building up the sport in the U.S. In both 2006 and 2010, she earned the highest ever finish for an American woman in the Olympics. Randall, competing in her fifth Olympics, was on the 4×5-kilometer relay team that finished fifth. The United States hadn't won a medal of any kind in cross-country skiing since Bill Koch took silver in the 30-kilometer race at the 1976 Innsbruck.

Norway won the bronze medal, with Norwegian skier Marit Bjoergen becoming the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 14 career medals.

Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall of the USA celebrate. The two American women won a cross-country skiing world championship gold medal in the team sprint.

Randall and Diggins snared gold by a nose, with Diggins sprinting to the finish 0.19 seconds ahead of the Swedish team of Charlotte Kalla and Stina Nilsson, with whom they had been dueling for the entire race.

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"When Jessie crossed the line, I looked over to the scoreboard and I saw United States No. 1 and I just let out a big scream and ran over and tackled Jessie", recalled Randall at a press conference afterward.

Diggins' father, Clay, said he had a feeling this was the day the drought would end.

The finals was Diggins' fifth race of these Olympics. Diggins had three top-six finishes at the Olympics and Randall was skiing well, too. "It's what I've been working on for 20 years and with this team for the last five years and, wow, it's just so fun to put it together tonight - finally".

The women of Team USA have long talked about the positive effects of a strong team.

Through the first four women's events in PyeongChang, Diggins was close - oh, so close.

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"I'm very, very happy for Jessie and Kikkan today taking a gold medal", Bjoergen said.

With one more women's event left - the women's 30km mass start Sunday - Bjorgen has one more shot at winning her eighth Olympic gold, which would move her into a tie for most ever.

At the six-and-a-quarter-kilometer mark, the last exchange, the USA was in third place, 0.75 seconds behind Norway. She won silver in the individual sprint.

"I remember Kikkan having to walk out of the [media] mix zone after her quarter with tears in her eyes", recalls Sophie Caldwell, who was in her first season with the team and surprised many by qualifying for the sprint final herself.

Olympic Athlete from Russia's Denis Spitsov and Alexander Bolshunov finished second in 15:57.97.

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