Sophie Caldwell may have finished last after falling in the women’s cross-country sprint final, but her sixth-place overall finish is now the best-ever for a U.S. female cross-country skier at the Olympics.
Caldwell was the lone American to escape the quarterfinals after gold medal contender Kikkan Randall, Ida Sargent and Jessie Diggins were all unable to move to the semifinals.
She then finished second in her semifinal heat, narrowly losing a photo finish to Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, to move into the six-person final.
That same heat featured two more potential gold medalists in Denise Herrmann and Marit Bjorgen, but they finished fourth and sixth respectively and with Herrmann missing a “lucky loser” spot, both were knocked out.
Randall previously had the best Olympic mark for U.S. female cross-country skiers with her eighth-place result in this event four years ago at Vancouver.
Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla won the gold medal over Oestberg by .38 of a second, while Slovenia’s Vesna Fabjan got the bronze. NBCOlympics.com’s Alan Abrahamson confirms that Falla’s gold was Norway’s 100th Olympic medal in cross-country skiing.
WOMEN’S CROSS-COUNTRY – SPRINT FINAL
1. Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR), 2:35.49
2. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), +0.38 seconds
3. Vesna Fabjan (SLO), +0.40 seconds
4. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR), +1.82 seconds
5. Iga Ingemarsdotter (SWE), +6.55 seconds
6. Sophie Caldwell (USA), +12.26 seconds
13. Jessie Diggins (USA), Eliminated in quarterfinals
18. Kikkan Randall (USA), Eliminated in quarterfinals
19. Ida Sargent (USA), Eliminated in quarterfinals