U.S. women make history at cross country skiing world championships

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U.S. women make history at cross country skiing world championships


Category: Culture / Lifestyle

Eight years ago, Kikkan Randall made history when she was the first American woman to win a cross country skiing world championship medal.

On Thursday, she and teammate Jessie Diggins held the U.S. flag as they skied down the finishing lane together after making more history at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland.

With Diggins claiming second and Randall third in the freestyle sprint, the Americans put two women on the podium for the second championships in a row. It was a record third worlds medal for each.

Randall, 34, called that first worlds medal “a groundbreaking, unimaginable thing,” noting the success Diggins has had at just 25.

“I think she came into a new reality where we knew success is possible, and it’s great to see what that confidence can do,” Randall said.

Added Diggins, “It’s one thing if you’re holding a flag by yourself, but to hold a corner with a teammate is way, way cool.”

The Americans started these championships with a bang, with Diggins, Randall and Sophie Caldwell making it through to the six-woman final.

For Diggins, the focus of the championships is on the distance and team events to come. But she won both her quarterfinal and semifinal heats to advance in the sprint.

Randall, meanwhile, made it through the quarterfinal in a lucky loser position after officials ruled Swiss skier Laurien van der Graaf obstructed Randall at a couple points where she was pinched trying to make a move.

In the semifinal, she narrowly missed a crash to finish second with Caldwell behind her.

Before the final, the three American skiers and their two coaches huddled. Each woman would ski for herself, but with them making up half the field they would look out for each other, they agreed.

“That happens to other nations, and that’s never happened to us before and we earned this,” Diggins said. “That belief, that feeling, for me, going into the final, I earned and worked and skied my butt off to get through the quarterfinal and the semi. We’ve earned out place in the final. It seemed like we made it. It’s been a lot of hard work to get here, and it was just this really cool team pride moment.”

Diggins was comfortably in second heading into the final turn, while Randall put herself on the podium by just more than 0.1 seconds, catching Sweden’s Hanna Falk in the final 100 meters.

“Overall, the performance I was kind of hoping for and dreaming about all season but certainly felt far away at points this year,” said Randall. “To get that result after that long road back and also to share it with a teammate and have three of us in the final, it was a magical day.”

Source: USA Today