Americans Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall, the only mom athlete on Team USA, made history today by winning gold in the women’s team sprint cross-country event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
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It’s the first-ever Olympic cross-country gold medal for the United States and the first ever Olympic medal in the sport for U.S. women.
Diggins, 26, had an incredibly strong push in the last lap and came from behind to win. "In the final stretch, I was just thinking, 'Go, go, go, I'm giving it everything I had and I've got someone who I really love and care about waiting for me at the finishing line and I just want to make her proud.’’
Randall, who was on edge watching the final lap, said, "I felt like Charlotte Kalla [of Sweden] and I had a screaming match. Her teammate was coming down and she went, 'Come on' and I went, 'Diggins,' and I had so much adrenaline as she was coming down.”
“But if there's anybody I'd have 100 percent faith in coming down that finishing stretch as fast as possible, it's Jessie. So that was just a wonderful feeling to take it all in and watch it happen." Randall, 35, added.
Bill Koch won the United States’ first Olympic cross-country medal 42 years ago at the 1976 Olympics, taking home a silver medal in the 30-kilometer (18 miles) event. Cross-country, or Nordic, skiing has been an Olympic event since the games in 1924 in Chamonix, France, but the women’s event wasn’t added until 1952.
Randall of Alaska is ending on a career high, earning the gold medal in her fifth and final Olympics. She missed the 2014 Sochi Games because of a strain in her lower back. She also gave birth to her son Breck in April 2016.
“It still doesn't feel real,” she said. “It's what I've been working on for 20 years and with this team for the last five years and wow. … I'd say it couldn't have gone better for us. “The real goal was just [to] ski smart and stay out of trouble and be strong at the end and it really paid off.”
Diggins of Minnesota made her Olympic debut in Sochi four years ago, placing eight in the individual skiathoan. But she redeemed herself today with a strong finish, surpassing her Norwegian competitors at the very end to clench the gold medal.
Diggins, who was still taking it all in, asked Randall, “Did we just win the Olympics?' and she [Randall] was like, 'Yeah'. It was amazing," Diggins said.
ABC News contributor Steven Nyman, who competed in three Olympics for the United States and is friends with Randall and Diggins, became emotional watching the event.
“History was truly made tonight,” Nyman said. “The first Olympic medal for any American woman in XC [cross-country]! It has been a long time in the making and no better two to make it happen. Kikkan Randall inspired a whole movement or youth skiers and for her to win this medal alongside the future of the team and Jessie Diggins was incredible.”