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Norway’s Simen Hegstad Kruger picked himself up off the floor on Sunday to clinch a dramatic gold in the men’s skiathlon at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
After falling and breaking a ski pole at the start of the 30-kilometre event, Kruger had to fight his way back into the pack in gruelling conditions before eventually pulling away in the final stages, winning in a time of one hour, 16 minutes and 20 seconds.
Kruger led home an all-Norwegian podium, with Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Hans Christer Holund taking silver and bronze respectively.
Read on for the results from one of the most testing events at the Games and a recap of a historic triumph for Kruger.
1. Simen Hegstad Kruger (NOR)—1:16:20.0
2. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR)—1:16.28.0
3. Hans Christer Holund (NOR)—1:16.29.9
For the result in full, visit the Pyeongchang website.
Kruger Storms Back to Win Gold
With the wind swirling at the start of the race at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre, there was drama from the outset of this 30-kilometre tussle.
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Indeed, one of the favourites for gold, Kruger, lost his balance at the very start, with one of his ski poles snapping. As noted by the FasterSkier account, it gave the Norwegian a massive mountain to climb from the outset:
Simen Hegstad Krueger (NOR) already broke a pole in the start, and Andrey Larkov (RUS) also must have had an issue, way off the back with Kruger #skiathlon #olympics
While the superior natural speed of some competitors whittled down the leading group over the first 15 kilometres, in which the skiers must use classic technique, with the conditions so challenging the pace wasn’t blistering.
There were a couple of moves from the pack, with Iivo Niskanen often at the head of the field and occasionally injecting some pace into proceedings. But with the wind still howling, there wasn’t any man ready to really take it on before halfway.
Per sports writer Veronika Pullmanova, as the racers entered the transition phase, all three medals were still up for grabs:
Veronika Pullmanová @Nice_Pullman
After pit stop we have 16 guys on top … #skiathlon #olympics #PyeongChang2018
By this point, despite his poor start, Kruger had actually been able to work his way back into the lead group and was working in tandem with compatriot Sundby. As they passed three-quarter distance, they were both well in contention along with a number of big names.
There were also some surprise names in the lead group, as Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave was settled in second spot behind Kruger. However, with the final lap beckoning, Kruger made a big move and built up a 10-second gap to the rest of the field.
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Nobody appeared willing to go with the Norwegian initially, and as a result, that advantage quickly doubled. As we can see courtesy of the Tuixent-La Vansa account, the gap was a big one as the finish approached:
🎗Tuixent-La Vansa @TuixentLaVansa
Quin atac de Krueger!!! #pyeongchangOlympics2018 #IloveThisGame https://t.co/JzLCZPDcLV
The big dig at the front was always going to have an impact on the leader, especially after his early issues. And as the final climb approached, Sundby was closing the gap to his fellow Norwegian.
However, remarkably, Kruger was able to cling on on the last ascent and even had time to soak up the acclaim of the crowd before crossing the line to win gold.
Sundby, meanwhile, finished in second after a scrap with Holund. Elsewhere Musgrave finished in a creditable seventh; the previous best performance from any British athlete in a cross-country skiing event was 29th.