Norway’s Simen Hegstad Krueger picked himself up from a fall on the opening lap of the men’s skiathlon at PyeongChang 2018 on Sunday 11 February to win gold and head up a Norwegian clean sweep.
Krueger broke clear of the field in the closing stages and stayed out front to win by eight seconds from compatriots Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Hans Christer Holund. It was Norway’s 13th Olympic Winter Games medal sweep.
Finland's Iivo Niskanen made much of the early running in the race but the Norwegians took to the front with three laps remaining.
Having recovered from his first-lap tumble, which had left him fully 36 seconds behind the leaders, Krueger made his break for glory with little more than a lap to go. He built up a lead of more than 20 seconds at one stage before his Norwegian team-mates struck back to close the gap.
Though Sundby and Holund closed in considerably, it was too little, too late, as Krueger held on to cross the line and claim a remarkable gold.
“It is an indescribable feeling,” said Krueger afterwards. “It is an amazing day but it started in the worst possible way with the fall after the first 100 metres and a broken pole.
“I was last, so I had to start the race again and switch focus just to catch up with everyone. When I did it I said to myself: ‘OK, take one lap, two laps, three laps and just get into it again, and try to do it on the final lap’.”
“I knew that my chance was to go early and try to catch the group by surprise. I saw in the women’s race yesterday that it was possible to go before the finish.”
Recalling his fall, he said: “I thought it was over. They pushed hard at the start too and I was just hoping that no one would go hard at the front in the wind. I had to keep pushing and hoping that it would calm down and then, all of a sudden, I was back up with them again.”
Elsewhere, Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave scored a notable seventh place, the best ever performance by a Briton in an Olympic cross country event.