'Ragnhild day' for Norway as HAGA is inspired to upset the odds

PYEONGCHANG - Norwegian cross-country skier Ragnhild HAGA upset her more fancied rivals to win the ladies' 10km free event as Marit BJOERGEN (NOR) moved to within one medal of equalling Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar BJOERNDALEN's Olympic Winter Games record of 13 medals.

BJOERGEN shared third place with Krista PARMAKOSKI (FIN) at the Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre on Thursday, with Charlotte KALLA (SWE) adding a silver medal to the gold medal she won in the ladies' skiathlon on Saturday.

But the day belonged to HAGA, or at least to the Ragnhilds.

"It is wild," HAGA said of the result. "When Ragnhild MOWINCKEL (NOR) won silver (in the ladies' giant slalom) we decided that today is Ragnhild day. That was really inspiring.

"When I started the last downhill I was thinking, 'This is the most important downhill of your life. You better stay on your feet'.

"I gave it all I had because I feared that KALLA (SWE) would go even faster in the end of her race. The way that I grabbed this opportunity - wow, I am truly satisfied with myself."

HAGA earned her first Olympic Winter Games gold medal in a time of 25 minutes and 0.5 seconds, 20.03 seconds ahead of KALLA.

The Swedish skier becomes the first woman to win an Olympic medal in the 10km event for the third successive time after her gold medal at Vancouver 2010 and silver at Sochi 2014.

It also gives KALLA her seventh Olympic medal, surpassing Gunde SVAN (SWE), Johan OLSSON (SWE) and Anja PARSON (SWE) in outright second place among Swedish athletes at the Olympic Winter Games, behind only Sixten JERNBERG (nine).

PARMAKOSKI and BJOERGEN shared third place on Thursday after both finishing in 25:32.4.

"Marit is one of my idols when I was a young girl, so it's nice to be fighting together with her, it's a feeling that is so amazing," PARMAKOSKI said.

Jessica DIGGINS (USA) finished fifth as USA still chase a first medal in women's cross-country at an Olympic Winter Games.