Will Historic Victory Raise Profile Of Competitive Cross Country?

[Editor Note: SeniorsSkiing.com thanks XCSkiResorts.com publisher Roger Lohr for this article on the incredible Olympic accomplishment of Randall and Diggins.  An expanded version first appeared in XCSkiResorts.com.]

Jessie and Kikkan winning Gold. Credit: Daily Caller

Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins made American Olympic history, winning the gold medal in Pyeongchang for the Women’s Team Sprint Freestyle Cross Country Ski race. They defeated Norwegian and Swedish superstar two-women teams as Diggins overtook the race leaders stretching over the finish line. The members of the US Women’s Cross Country Ski Team have reached the World Cup podium dozens of times in the last few years, but this was the first Olympic medal by the American women in cross country skiing, and the first Olympic medal for Americans in the sport since Bill Koch won silver in 1976, and the FIRST OLYMPIC GOLD for Americans in cross country skiing.

After the race, Kikkan ran to hug Jessie who was laying on the snow asking her teammate, “Oh my gosh, did we just win the Olympics?” In an NBC interview, Jessie stated, “The team events mean so much to us.  I came down that hill behind the other two girls tactically to get the draft, get the slingshot—those last 100 meters I dug really, really deep.” While looking at Kikkan, Jessie commented “This was the last time we are going to do this together, and I wanted to make it a good one.” The 7.5 km race was Kikkan’s 17th career Olympic event and the other 16 ended without a medal.  She commented, “The history has motivated us. I always believed deep down it was possible, but to save it for my last Olympic race—it’s crazy but the best ending I could have asked for.”

And by the way, announcer Peter Graves, who is known as “the voice of cross country ski racing”  and Chad Salmela called the race and down the stretch it was one of the epic and exciting sports calls of all time! They should be given gold medals in the announcer category.

How This Victory Could Impact Cross Country Skiing

Jessie crossed the finish line. Credit: Daily Caller

On the  morning of the race, the coverage of the Olympic medal was on NBC, ESPN, and every other TV outlet, Sports Illustrated, LA Times, NY Post, USAToday, NY Times, MSN.com, Minneapolis Tribune, CBSSports.com, and so on. A victory would mean much more time will be invested in promoting cross country skiing, resulting in more team sponsors, and more funding of the team. A US Ski Team official stated, “We’re going to see it grow now, for sure.” What could be more wholesome than the fitness and outdoors associated with cross country skiing?”

After being informed that the NBC TV staff was watching the end of the race and screaming for the American women, Kikkan replied “The perfect ending and a dream come true. We always hoped to create that reaction for cross country skiing!”

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