From the United States’ first-ever cross-country gold medal to the Shirtless Tongan, check out the best moments from the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics cross-country skiing competition.
Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall made United States cross-country skiing history in PyeongChang with their gold medal in the women's team sprint. Diggins and Randall became the first American cross-country skiers to win a gold and the first American women to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. Oh, and they ended a 42-year Olympic medal drought. You're going to want to revisit NBC Olympics' Chad Salmela's epic call of their historic gold.
It wouldn't be the Olympics without Pita Taufatofua. Don't know the name? Sure you do. The Shirtless Tongan! On the snow! Taufatofua qualified for the Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier, and while he wore a shirt during his competition (I know, sad), he did accomplish his very simple goals. He didn't hit a tree and he wanted to finish the 15km individual. Get this! He didn't even finish last!
This one came early on in PyeongChang but was one of the most memorable individual performances in cross-country skiing. Norwegian skier (shocking, right?) Simen Hegstad Krueger overcame a crash at the starting gate to capture gold in the men's 30km skiathlon. Krueger fell 37.8 seconds behind the leader of the pack and then climbed, climbed and climbed to finish the race eight seconds ahead of silver medalist Martin Johnsrud Sundby.
It was a foregone conclusion that Norwegian skier Marit Bjorgen would make history in PyeongChang before the Games began. She needed one medal to become the most decorated female Winter Olympian ever. She accomplished that on her first try, taking home a silver in the women's 15km skiathlon. History didn't stop here for Bjorgen but more on that later. Below, you can see the first of her historic PyeongChang Olympics. She really is something special.
Norway dominated cross-country skiing and its 21-year-old wonder boy flexed his muscle in the men's 4x10km relay. Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo outskied Denis Sptisov, an Olympic Athlete from Russia, in the final 10 kilometers to secure Norway the gold in the relay. The Norwegians, at one point during the race, were more than 40 seconds back. Relive Klaebo's showdown with Spitsov below.
Olympic cross-country skiing is a taxing sport, and when the athletes finish, some cool moments come of it. We compiled a montage of the best cross-country skiing finish-line collapses. Pretty neat to see Olympic athletes fall down in exhaustion after completing events they've worked so hard for, for so long.
This is what the Olympics are all about. Sportsmanship. Sure, winning medals are great, but qualifying for an Olympics is quite the accomplishment in itself for the athletes. Throw out the normal rules of athletics; finishing last is still worth celebrating. In cross-country skiing, we saw that first-hand in PyeongChang.
There is the Shirtless Tongan, who, self-admittedly, stood no chance of reaching the podium. Then there is "Super Dario" Cologna, who absolutely owns the Olympic men's 15km individual. Cologna won his third straight gold in the individual in PyeongChang, becoming the first male cross-country skier to win three golds in one event.
We teased we'd show you more from Bjorgen's historic PyeongChang Olympics, and here we are. While Diggins and Randall captured the U.S.'s first Olympic gold in the women's team sprint, Bjorgen became the most decorated Winter Olympian of all-time with her 14th career medal. In her final event, the 37-year-old earned his 15th career medal and her eighth Olympic gold. Bjorgen earned a medal in every event she participated in. Quite the end to an amazing Olympic career.
We began with Diggins and Randall setting American cross-country history and we're going to end it with it too. When Diggins crossed the finish line, she yelled in excitement, collapsed to the ground and quickly, Randall jumped on top and the celebration began.
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