(Lahti, Finland) - Norway's Marit Bjoergen has skied her way into the history books yet again. This time winning her 15th World Championship gold medal. Entering the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Bjoergen was tied with Russia's Elena Valbe at 14 but with her victory today in the ladies' 15km Skiathlon she stands alone atop this category.
Finland's Krista Parmakoski kept it very exciting today changing the lead back and forth as she and Bjoergen broke away from everyone on the free technique part of the Skiathlon. At one point Parmakoski put on a short burst to test Bjoergen's legs much to the excitement of the sell out crowd in Lahti stadium. But in the end Bjoergen proved too strong with her own attack on the final climb and she skied to gold with a 4.8 second lead over Parmakoski who took the silver.
Sweden's Charlotte Kalla took the bronze medal position +32.0 seconds back. Midway through the classic portion of the Skiathlon it was down to 4 athletes battling for 3 podium positions. The switch to free technique proved to be a turning point with Bjoergen and Parmakoski breaking away and Kalla eventually dropping Norway's Heidi Weng.
Weng lost over minute to Bjoergen in the final 7.5 km of the competition and was caught by Switzerland's Natalie Von Siebenthal for fourth place by just 0.1 ahead of Weng. Fourth to seventh was separated by just 0.7 seconds with 8 nations represented in the top 11 positions. It was a very exciting ladies' competition.
Marit Bjoergen (NOR)
I kept little bit left so that I could keep control of the race at the end. I heard the crowd that was cheering was Krista. It was really special to ski against her on her home snow. I did not know how close Kalla was. I had bad exchange and I came behind the girls in the free technique. To win gold medal today was in my mind for a long time and it’s amazing I succeeded.
Krista Parmakoski (FIN)
Today was really a good day. I had great skis, the grip was really solid and the classic leg put me in a good position before the exchange. I skied today with confidence. I was surprised the gap grew really easily. The spectators were amazing, shouting my name. The whole team did an incredible job.
Charlotte Kalla (SWE)
I am so happy. It is great to win a medal at the beginning of the World Championships. It has been a long way for me since Ruka. After the fall I managed to ski back to the leading group. I felt strong in the uphills. I had very good grip. The techs did a very good job.
OFFICIAL RESULTS - Ladies' 15 km Skiathlon
1. BJOERGEN Marit 1980 NOR 37:57.5
2. PARMAKOSKI Krista 1990 FIN +4.8
3. KALLA Charlotte 1987 SWE +32.0
4. VON SIEBENTHAL Nathalie 1993 SUI +1:05.0
5. WENG Heidi 1991NOR +1:05.1