Klaebo does it again as Norway takes gold in men's 4x10km relay
It came down to Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo and Denis Spitsov.
The Norwegian wonder boy won.
Klaebo outskied Spitsov, an Olympic Athlete from Russia, in the final 10 kilometers to capture gold for Norway in the men’s 4x10km relay Sunday at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre in PyeongChang, South Korea.
More specifically, Klaebo pulled away from Spitsov in the final 1.73 kilometers and had enough time to grab Norway's flag as he crossed the finish line.
“I felt strong. Also in the first round (of my relay leg), it felt quite strong,” Klaebo said, “and the skis were so good so then, I knew that I would attack at that moment in the last round.
“I felt strong and to get a gap – it’s quite an unbelievable feeling.”
OAR, despite leading for most of the first three legs, took home the silver medal. France came in third for bronze.
At one point during the second leg, OAR built a 40.7-second lead over France and a 41.1-second lead over Norway. Two-time defending gold medalist Sweden was 1 minute and 33.3 seconds back.
Russian skier Alexander Bolshunov skied a strong second 10 kilometers and Alexey Chervotkin built up a 20.4-second lead in the first 1.67 kilometers of the third leg but slowly tired.
Norwegian skier Simen Hegstad Krueger skied a championship third leg.
Krueger caught Bolshunov and eventually passed him, giving Norway the lead at the final handoff. Klaebo did the rest.
“He looked incredibly strong,” Krueger said of Klaebo. “When he went ahead, the Russian had nothing to come up with and then we all could just cheer and just scream. An incredible feeling to see he has got time to take on the flag over the finish line as well.”
Norway, the defending world champion, won its 11th cross-country medal of the PyeongChang Games. It’s the third time Norway has won 11 cross-country medals in a single Winter Olympics.
The gold is Norway's first in the men's 4x10 relay since the 2002 Salt Lake Games.
It’s the second gold medal of these Games for Klaebo and Krueger and the second medal for Martin Johnsrud Sundby. Sundby won silver in the skiathlon.
“This is an important event,” Sundby said. “We haven’t won it for 16 years now and been struggling a bit in the last Olympics and to be able with these guys to take it home this year was, for sure, it was great.”
Bolshunov and Spitsov each got their second medals of these Olympics. Bolshunov won bronze in the individual sprint, while Spitsov got bronze in the 15km freestyle.
OAR remains without a gold medal in PyeongChang.
"There are not many emotions now," Russian skier Andrey Larkov said. "I just want to go home and change clothes.
"Of course, it is very important and we really wanted to win this race, but the second place is also good and we'll have another chance here to show ourselves."
Sweden failed to threepeat as the gold medalist in the 4x10km relay, finishing in fifth place and 2 minutes, 5.6 seconds behind Norway.
“Jens (Burman) did an OK course,” Swedish skier Daniel Rickardsson said. “For him, it’s the first time in the relay team, so I think it was OK and I was prepared to help the other guys, but I tried to do my best but the skies weren’t with me. I pushed everything I could but today, it was not good.
“I think we had a good medal chance before the race, but you have to have good skis and everyone has to be in really good shape to fix it, but today, we are not there.”
The United States finished in last place, closing over nine minutes behind Norway.
Cross-country skiing has a couple of days off before the women’s team sprint Wednesday.