Norway’s Klaebo powers to sprint classic gold
Johannes Hoesfolt Klaebo surged to victory in the men’s sprint classic at PyeongChang 2018 on Tuesday 13 February, claiming a second cross-country gold of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games for Norway.
After a relatively disappointing tenth place in the men's skiathlon, the 21-year-old Klaebo was in determined mood as the competition got under way at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre, and eased through the quarter- and semi-finals before turning on the style in the six-man final.
Having sat behind Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) Alexander Bolshunov for much of the early part of the race, Klaebo made a sudden lane switch and powered up the hill to leave the rest of the field struggling in his wake. He crossed the line in a time of three minutes 5.75 seconds, over a second clear of his closest challengers.
"It means a lot," said Klaebo, after earning a place in the Olympic record books as the youngest gold-medal winner ever in men's cross-country skiing. "I think there's been a lot of external pressure in the last couple of weeks and to be able to win here is unbelievable. It is so cool to cross the finish line first. It is difficult to describe. Everything happens so fast and you feel so happy."
In a thrilling battle behind Klaebo, Italy's Federico Pellegrino, the reigning world sprint champion, took silver by two hundredths of a second from Bolshunov, with a photo finish being needed to separate the two skiers.
"I feel really happy and satisfied," commented the Italian. "I wanted a medal. I worked a lot for this, and my team worked a lot too. Everything was perfect today. In the last hundred metres I had the bronze and I thought, 'OK, now you have the bronze. Do you want the silver medal or not?' I tried to get the silver and I got it."