US X-country ready to end 42-year drought

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) - It's been 42 years since the United States won a medal in cross-country skiing.

Andy Newell believes that drought is about to end.

The four-time Olympian sprint specialist said he is so confident in how far the Americans have come in cross-country that it would "disappointing" if they don't come home with any hardware from the Pyeongchang Games.

"We're at a point where we can say that now," Newell said. "For me personally, I would love for that medal to come around my neck, but if it is around any (American's) neck we will be equally stoked."

For an American to even suggest that it would be disappointing to not win an Olympic medal in a sport largely dominated by Europeans is a fairly bold claim. The Americans have been little more than participants since Bill Koch won a silver in 1976 at Innsbruck.

But it's also a testament to how far they have come.

Jessie Diggins, Sophie Caldwell and Sadie Bjornsen are considered strong contenders on the women's side, while Simi Hamilton and Newell could be the best medal hopes for the men.

Diggins won the final World Cup race before the Olympics and ranks third in the standings.

She's been on the rise for a while, capturing two medals at the 2017 world championships. Diggins and Bjornsen, who ranks seventh in the World Cup standings, teamed up to win bronze in the team sprint classic at last year's worlds.

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