Saturday, 10 February 2018 - 10:27
PYEONGCHANG - Kikkan RANDALL (USA) is hoping to emulate sole US cross-country skiing medallist Bill KOCH and inspire a generation of women in the United States by breaking through at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
KOCH won silver in the 30km event at the Innsbruck 1976 Olympic Winter Games but that remains the only Games medal won in cross-country skiing by a competitor from the United States.
RANDALL has achieved six top-10 finishes across four Olympic Winter Games while Jessica DIGGINS (USA) and Sophie CALDWELL are both stars on the rise as the US looks to end its drought.
DIGGINS is a strong medal chance in the ladies' 10km free event and won the final World Cup event before PyeongChang 2018 and lies third in the distance and overall 2017/2018 World Cup standings.
CALDWELL is third overall in the World Cup sprint standings while teammates Sadie BJORNSEN (seventh) and DIGGINS (ninth) are also in the top 10.
Of the NOCs competing at PyeongChang 2018, Norway has won the most overall medals in women's cross-country with 36 medals, four more than Finland.
But RANDALL believes it is time for the US to break the stranglehold of the Nordic and European nations, despite Norway, Sweden and Finland again expected to be strong.
"Overall we’ve just started to really feel like we belong and that’s so cool and it’s really cool to see the effect it’s having back at home," RANDALL said.
“I think we’ve all seen the power that Bill KOCH’s silver medal had from 1976 and I’ve always kind of felt like we just needed that example on the women’s side.
"I know it can do incredible things for this team and cross-country in the US. I know I’ve helped push these girls so if one of them is standing on the victory podium, I’m gonna be cheering for them and really excited because I know I’ve helped be a part of it."
Despite the prospect of individual success, DIGGINS is looking forward to competing with her US teammates.
"I’m most excited about the team event," DIGGINS said. "That’s where I’m going to be trying to put the very most energy."