Experience Life caught up with Team USA Nordic skiers Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins during a training session in Park City, Utah. Hear why they’re excited about preparing for Sochi in our exclusive behind-the-scenes video.
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I’m a Norwegian skier and I’m delighted to see that these extraordinary women are finally getting some good press at home. I don’t think many in the US realize how big this is. XC skiers are arguably the most fit athletes of any sport, if you count objective measures such as VO2max.
Moreover, only Kikkan was heard of internationally just a few years ago, but in part due to her apparently great personality and a strong commitment from a backup team, they have managed to build a world-class team in just a few years. The US now has two full teams on 4-leg relays in the World Cup. It is amazing.
I think that for the first time, one of the greatest thrills of the upcoming Olympics is going to be a silver medal, the silver of the 4 * 5 km women’s relay. I don’t think they can beat the Norwegian team, but it is likely to be a thriller for the silver with Sweden, Finland and the US at about the same level, and a very enjoyable thriller, I think it is the event I look forward to with most excitement for the entire Olympics. It is so cool that it is not only in the nordics that there are great XC skiers.
Sweden hasn’t really made a mark on many events this year, but they have an experienced team, and Kalla is in great shape, we know that. Finland was very strong in Tour de Ski recently, and had several skiers ahead of the US. However, Diggins came really close to the second place in a worldcup event, where Finland had the same team that will likely compete in the Olympics. Diggins was extremely strong in the last ascent, but unfortunately fell on the downhill. Such crashes are rare though, not very likely to happen again.
As it looks now, Jacobsen is likely to enter the Norwegian team, which probably causes Johaug to get the third leg. Even if Finland and Sweden has managed to build a lead against Norway and the US, Liz Stephen has her strengths in the same areas as Johaug, and so has a really good chance to close that gap if she manages to catch Johaug.
It’ll be very interesting to see how this plays out, but I think the US has a very good chance at a silver medal.
Last week I went skiing with some friends and we talked about what a shame it is that the US has so much trouble medaling in cross-country skiing. It’s great to hear that I might be wrong. I’ll know to watch Ms. Diggins and Randall at Sochi.
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