Nilsson and Klaebo golden in Olympic classic sprints
PYEONGCHANG - Johannes Hoesflot KLAEBO (NOR) became the youngest Olympic champion in men's cross-country skiing with victory in the men's sprint classic at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
It came after Swedish skier Stina NILSSON won the women's sprint classic, also on Tuesday night at Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre.
At 21 years and 114 days old, KLAEBO surpasses Sweden's Gunde SVAN, who won the men's 15km classic at the Sarajevo 1984 Olympic Winter Games at the age of 22 years and 32 days old.
"I heard that one, so for sure that is cool," KLAEBO said of the record.
"I just try to have focus on what I can do. I think, with this, a lot of pressure from the outside can come. I think it is even better to win when you can deal with the pressure.
"I have not slept good for a few days, now the shoulders are low and I can have focus on what is coming next. For sure I am going to celebrate this one."
Competing at his first Olympic Winter Games, KLAEBO trailed Alexander BOLSHUNOV (OAR) heading up the final climb of the 1.4-kilometre course. But the Norwegian made the rest of the field look like they were standing still as he sprinted to the front of the six-man final with an extraordinary burst of speed.
Federico PELLEGRINO (ITA) chased down bronze medallist BOLSHUNOV in the final straight to claim the silver medal.
In the ladies' final, NILSSON was a runaway winner in a time of three minutes, 6.87 seconds after executing a superb downhill section of the course to win by 3.03 seconds, ahead of Maiken Caspersen FALLA (NOR).
FALLA becomes the first person to win two Olympic medals in the cross-country individual sprint event, having won the gold medal at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Yulia BELORUKOVA (OAR) pursued FALLA down the home straight but finished 0.34 seconds back to claim the bronze medal, having won her quarterfinal and semifinal heats earlier in the evening.
- Maiken Caspersen FALLA (NOR) took silver after winning gold in the sprint four years ago and became the first athlete to win two Olympic medals in this event.
- It was the fifth medal for Norway in the ladies' sprint (classic and free); no other NOC has more than two.
- It was NILSSON's second Olympic medal after her bronze in the team sprint at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
PYEONGCHANG - Johannes Hoesflot KLAEBO (NOR) became the youngest man to win gold in cross-country skiing after he won the men's sprint on Tuesday 13 February at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre.
Aged 21, KLAEBO broke the men's record held by Gunde SVAN (SWE), who was 22 when he won the men's 15km classic in 1984.
KLAEBO became the third Olympic champion from Norway in a men's individual sprint event, after Ola Vigen HATTESTAD in 2014 (sprint free) and Tor Arne HETLAND in 2002 (sprint free).
Silver medallist Federico PELLEGRINO (ITA) gave Italy its second Olympic medal in a men's sprint event, after Cristian ZORZI, who claimed bronze in the sprint free in 2002.
Bronze medallist Alexander BOLSHUNOV (OAR, 21 year and 44 days old) is 70 days younger than KLAEBO and became the fourth youngest man to win an individual medal in cross-country skiing at the Olympic Winter Games.
The only men who were younger when they won an individual Olympic medal in this sport than BOLSHUNOV are Ivar FORMO (NOR), who was 20 years and 228 days, when he took bronze in the men's 15km classic in 1972, Bill KOCH (USA), who was 20 years and 243 days when he clinched silver in the men's 30km classic in 1976 and Russia's Alexander PANZHINSKIY, who was 20 years and 338 days when he grabbed silver in the men's sprint classic in 2010.
1. Stina NILSSON (SWE) - gold
On her victory:
"I feel very emotional and also very happy. I felt strong during the whole day so to be able to take the gold medal was fantastic. It means so much. I have worked so hard for this, so many years. It's been many ups and many downs and to take the gold medal today is something that I'm going to be proud of for the rest of my life. I really had the best day of my life so far."
On the race:
"I'm never confident in sprint because I had not so good days in Lahti last year (at the world championships in Finland), so I knew that even though (in the closing stages of the final) I had distance between me and the second girl (Maiken Caspersen FALLA, NOR), I had to stand up on the skis well in the last downhill to be sure to win the gold."
2. Maiken Caspersen FALLA (NOR) - silver
On taking silver:
"It means very much. I've been training for this the whole season and I knew it was possible to win a medal so today I'm really happy and I achieved my goal for this season. Now I'm just really relieved and happy. In sprint there's so many things that can happen, it's really small things that can be a big difference so to win a silver medal today after a really good last season is really big."
On missing out on gold:
"I did my best and to achieve a silver medal in the Olympics, it's huge, it's really big for me."
On her support team:
"I'm really proud, I can almost start crying. It's so many people who stand behind me. We have a great team and a great boyfriend and a brother who is here so after the race I had to go and see them. I'm really proud of all the people who have helped me to get here."
3. Yulia BELORUKOVA (OAR) - bronze
On taking bronze:
"I don't remember all the things I did in this game but I cannot really show my emotions."
On crossing the finish line:
"I couldn't believe that I would win this medal at that point."
1. Johannes Hoesflot KLAEBO (NOR) - gold
On winning the gold medal:
"It means a lot. I think it has been a lot of pressure from outside the last couple of weeks and to be able to win here is unbelievable. It is quite cool to cross the finish line first. It is difficult to describe, everything has happened so fast and you are so happy."
On the pre-race pressure:
"For sure, it is difficult, I have not slept good for a few days, now the shoulders are low and I can have focus on what is coming next. For sure I am going to celebrate this one."
On being the youngest gold-medal winner in men's cross-country skiing in the Olympic Games:
"I heard that one, so for sure that is cool. I just try to have focus on what I can do. I think, with this, a lot of pressure from the outside can come. I think it is even better to win when you can deal with the pressure. This is the first one and I am looking forward to the next races now."
2. Federico PELLEGRINO (ITA) - silver
On his achievement:
"I feel really happy and satisfied. I wanted a medal, I worked a lot for this. I worked a lot, my team worked a lot. Everything was perfect today. In the last hundred metres I had the bronze and I thought, 'OK, now you have the bronze. You want the silver medal or not?' I tried to catch the silver and I had it. I think that my life can be continued to be lived quiet. I will try to be more relaxed home with my fans, my family and my girlfriend. I will enjoy everything of my life. I think that for most of all the Italian people it is really important because we need some good athletes for making some idols. I want to be the best for the young."
3. Alexander BOLSHUNOV (OAR) - bronze
On what the medal means:
"I am satisfied with the result. At the start of this Games I was sick, and with this result I am satisfied."
On what he could have done differently to take silver or gold:
"It would be difficult to get a better medal but I (will) do my best in order to be No.1 in the next Games."
LADIES - 1.25 km Sprint C
1. NILSSON Stina SWE 3:03.84
2. FALLA Maiken Caspersen NOR +3.03
3. BELORUKOVA Yulia YC OAR +3.37
4. NEPRYAEVA Natalia YC OAR +9.14
5. FALK Hanna SWE +11.16
6. DIGGINS Jessica USA +11.23
MEN - 1.4 km Sprint C
1. KLAEBO Johannes Hoesflot NOR 3:05.75
2. PELLEGRINO Federico ITA +1.34 (Photo Finish)
3. BOLSHUNOV Alexander OAR +1.36 (Photo Finish)
4. GOLBERG Paal NOR +3.81
5. SVENSSON Oskar SWE +7.73
6. HAKOLA Ristomatti FIN +20.72