Norway wins thrilling ladies' 4 x 5 km relay

PYEONGCHANG - Marit BJOERGEN anchored Norway to victory in the ladies 4x5km relay on Saturday to win her seventh Olympic Winter Games gold medal, a record among women.

The 37-year-old's 13th medal of any colour also puts her equal with Ole Einar BJOERNDALEN (NOR) as the most successful Winter Olympian in history.

"For sure I haven't thought about that," BJOERGEN said of her records.

"I think when you're an athlete and still racing you're looking forward and not thinking about what you've done.

"You're just looking forward to the next race and focus on that. Like I said before, when I've finished skiing I'll look behind me and see what I will have done."

BJOERGEN started the final leg of the relay on Saturday in third place, 3.4 seconds adrift, but by the top of the first climb at Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre she had overhauled leaders Sweden and second-placed OAR.

She then held off Sweden's Stina NILSSON, the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games ladies' sprint champion, for the remainder of the final leg, giving Norway its 10th cross-country medal of the Games.

"The other girls did give me a good position, but it's a new position for me," BJOERGEN said of starting her leg in third place.

"In the last year I have been going there in front by myself, but I had to try and push hard all the way and I knew I could do it if I had a good day.

"I thought it was going to be hard when I had Stina (NILSSON) on my skis on the last lap so I'm very happy. I can't understand that I did it either."

Norway won the relay in 51 minutes and 24.3 seconds, 2.0 seconds ahead of Sweden and 43.3 seconds ahead of bronze-medallists OAR.

Natalia NEPRYAEVA and Yulia BELORUKOVA had OAR leading at the halfway mark after they skied strongly in the first two legs of the relay, both in the classic style.

Charlotte KALLA took Sweden from fifth to second during the second leg of the relay and when the style switched to the free technique for the second half of the race, Norway were in fourth place, 29.8 seconds behind OAR.

But PyeongChang 2018 ladies' 10km free champion Ragnhild HAGA took Norway to within 3.4 seconds as she handed the battle to BJOERGEN.

"She is an absolute legend," Jessica DIGGINS (USA) said of BJOERGEN after USA finished fifth.

"It's really, really cool to see her race every single time. She just skis with absolute control."

For Sweden, the silver medal is KALLA's eighth medal at the Olympic Winter Games, putting her one behind Swedish record holder Sixten JERNBERG, who has nine.

COMPETITION FACTS

  • BJOERGEN won her seventh gold medal, an outright record for a woman at the Olympic Winter Games.
  • At the Summer Games, gymnasts Vera CASLAVSKA (TCH, seven) and Larissa LATYNINA (URS, nine), canoe sprinter Birgit FISCHER (GER, eight) and swimmer Jenny THOMPSON (USA, eight) have also won at least seven gold medals among women.
  • BJOERGEN has now won 13 medals, equalling biathlete Ole Einar BJOERNDALEN (NOR) for a record total among men and women at the Olympic Winter Games.
  • Only one woman at the Summer Games has won at least 13 Olympic medals, LATYNINA won 18.
  • This was Norway's 10th medal in cross-country skiing at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. It has won at least 10 medals in this sport for the third time, following 11 in 2002 and 2014.
  • This was Norway's 125th gold medal at the Winter Games in all sports. It is the first NOC reaching this mark.
  • Sweden took silver and has now won back-to-back medals in the ladies' relay for the first time since 1968, when it reached the podium four times in a row.
  • Charlotte KALLA (SWE) won her eighth Olympic Winter Games medal, one behind Swedish record holder Sixten JERNBERG (nine).

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OFFICIAL RESULTS

LADIESĀ  4 x 5 km relay

1. NORWAY 51:24.3
OESTBERG Ingvild Flugstad 1990 13:28.9
JACOBSEN Astrid Uhrenholdt 1987 14:15.9
HAGA Ragnhild 1991 11:46.7
BJOERGEN Marit 1980 11:52.8

2. SWEDEN +2.0
HAAG Anna 1986 13:50.3
KALLA Charlotte 1987 13:26.4
ANDERSSON Ebba 1997 12:11.4
NILSSON Stina 1993 11:58.2

3. OLYMPIC ATHLETE FROM RUSSIA +43.3
NEPRYAEVA Natalia 1995 13:24.5
BELORUKOVA Yulia 1995 13:50.5
SEDOVA Anastasia 1995 12:13.4
NECHAEVSKAYA Anna 1991 12:39.2

4. FINLAND +1:02.6
SAARINEN Aino-Kaisa 1979 13:44.4
NISKANEN Kerttu 1988 13:40.7
ROPONEN Riitta-Liisa 1978 12:45.2
PARMAKOSKI Krista 1990 12:16.6

5. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA +1:20.5
CALDWELL Sophie 1990 14:26.0
BJORNSEN Sadie 1989 13:54.2
RANDALL Kikkan 198212:12.9
DIGGINS Jessica 1991 12:11.7

CompleteĀ RESULTS