PYEONGCHANG - Dario COLOGNA (SUI) became the first cross-country skier to win three Olympic titles in one specific men's event after claiming the men's 15km free gold medal at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The 31-year-old won the race at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre on Friday in a time of 33 minutes and 43.9 seconds, adding the PyeongChang 2018 title to his gold medal in the 15km event at Sochi 2014 (classic) and Vancouver 2010 (free).
"To win in three different Olympics is very hard work over many years," COLOGNA said.
"I had two not-so-easy years, the last two, but really wanted to be back. It feels very good to be back on top.
"Three times in this event and four gold medals (in his Olympic Winter Games career). Now I am together with Simon AMMANN (SUI), the only Swiss who won four times in the Olympics (Winter Games). To write a little bit of history, it is not bad."
Simen Hegstad KRUEGER (NOR) claimed the silver medal, finishing 18.3 seconds slower than COLOGNA, while Denis SPITSOV (OAR) was a further 4.7 back to take bronze.
It is KRUEGER's second medal at PyeongChang 2018 after he won the opening event on the men's programme, the skiathlon.
"Dario was in another league today. He was amazingly strong. To take a silver medal is a victory for me," KRUEGER said.
"The whole championship has been a dream. I had a small hope to maybe take a medal but then standing here with one gold and one silver medal out of two competitions is unbelievable."
Alex HARVEY (CAN), who finished seventh, was quick to join his rivals in praising COLOGNA.
"He's been dominating this year. I'm really happy for him, he's a great guy," HARVEY said.
"He's good on the World Cup, too. He's good week in, week out. He's just a great skier technically. He's got a huge engine as well and a cool head."
- COLOGNA won his third Olympic gold in this event after winning at Sochi 2014 (15km classic) and Vancouver 2010 (15km free). He is the first cross-country skier to claim three Olympic titles in one specific men's event.
- COLOGNA equalled Sixten JERNBERG (SWE) on a record three medals in the men's 15km free/classic at the Olympic Winter Games.
- COLOGNA joined JERNBERG (four), Gunde SVAN (SWE, four), Thomas WASSBERG (SWE, four) and Nikolai ZIMYATOV (URS, four) in joint third place on the all-time Olympic gold medal list in men's cross-country skiing.
- Only Thomas ALSGAARD (NOR, five) and Bjoern DAEHLIE (NOR, eight) have won more gold.
- COLOGNA equalled ski jumper Simon AMMANN (SUI) and artistic gymnast Georges MIEZ (SUI) on a record four gold medals for Switzerland at the Olympic Games or Olympic Winter Games.
- Silver medallist Simen Hegstad KRUEGER (NOR) became the first Norwegian to win a medal in this event at the Olympic Winter Games since Frode ESTIL won silver at Salt Lake City 2002.
- KRUEGER won the skiathlon at PyeongChang 2018. He is the first Norwegian man with multiple medals in cross-country skiing at one Winter Games since Petter NORTHUG won two in 2010.
- At 21 years and 184 days, bronze medallist Denis SPITSOV (OAR) became the second-youngest medallist in this event at the Olympic Winter Games, after Ivar FORMO (NOR) who won bronze at Sapporo 1972 aged 20 years and 228 days.
Dario COLOGNA (SUI) - gold
On his performance:
"It was not too bad - it was just amazing. It was really hard work and I really wanted to win again here after Vancouver and Sochi. I still cannot believe I am the winner of the gold medal."
On winning the event at three consecutive Olympic Winter Games:
"Three times in this event and four gold medals. Now I am together with Simon AMMANN (SUI), the only Swiss who won four times in the Olympics. To write a little bit of history, it is not bad. To win in three different Olympics is very hard work over many years. I had two not-so-easy years, the last two, but really wanted to be back. It feels very good to be back on top. So many thoughts are going through the head. Very big emotions and many people, the team who helped me a lot, my family who is here, my girlfriend and it is always a great team behind, they all did a very good job."
2. Simen Hegstad KRUEGER (NOR) - silver
On winning his second medal at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games (he won gold in skiathlon):
"I am really satisfied with the race and the feeling to be back on the podium. I thought before the Olympics that this was my chance to get an individual medal. Dario (COLOGNA, SUI, gold medallist) was in another league today. He was amazingly strong. To take a silver medal is a victory for me."
On his race tactics:
"I was trying to go in a steady pace. It is a tough course even if not the steepest hills, so it is not much rest during the race. I tried to find a steady pace and it did not feel so good in the start but it got better after some laps. I think I managed to have a decent two laps where I think I secured the second place."
On having family and friends in the stands:
"My family and my girlfriend and some friends are down here watching. That makes it even better to have them here cheering for me. It is a bit unreal. The whole championship has been a dream. I had a small hope to maybe take a medal but then standing here with one gold and one silver medal out of two competitions is, what can I say, it is unbelievable."
3. Denis SPITSOV (OAR) - bronze
On winning the bronze medal:
"After my fourth place (in the men's skiathlon) I wanted very much to win the medal, not only for me but for the whole team that came here without many sportsmen, who are dismissed. It was great to win a medal."
On his thoughts as he crossed the finish line:
"When I finished, first of all I asked my teammate just to show me the list and when I saw the result at 10 kilometres and I was in eighth place, I was sure I would not win a medal. It was a surprise."
MEN 15km Free
1. COLOGNA Dario 1986 SUI 33:43.9
2. KRUEGER Simen Hegstad 1993 NOR +18.3
3. SPITSOV Denis 1996 RUS +23.0
4. SUNDBY Martin Johnsrud 1984 +24.9
5. MANIFICAT Maurice 1986 FRA +27.0