Winter Olympics spoiler alert: Women’s 15K Pursuit
By MATTIAS KAREN
AP Sports Writer
Article on women's 15-kilometer cross-country skiing pursuit.
WHISTLER, British Columbia — Marit Bjoergen of Norway became the first double gold-medal winner of the Vancouver Olympics on Friday after a dominant victory in the women’s 15-kilometer cross-country skiing pursuit.
Bjoergen pushed the pace much of the way, pulling away from her rivals midway through the freestyle portion of the race, and was never threatened over the last kilometers.
She entered the ski stadium with a comfortable lead, raising her hands in the air to salute the flag-waving Norwegian fans as she paraded down the final straightaway.
Anna Haag of Sweden was a surprising second after winning a three-way sprint for the silver medal, finishing 8.9 seconds behind. Pre-race favorite Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland took the bronze after beating Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway in a photo finish for her second medal of the game.
The race featured a mass start with skiers using the classical style for the first half, then switching to freestyle over the last 7.5 kilometers.
Bjoergen, who also won the individual classical sprint on Wednesday, was up front from the start and used a grueling pace to break up the field. By the 5K mark, only seven skiers remained in the leading group, and only Kowalczyk and Finnish veteran Aino-Kaisa Saarinen managed to stay with her all the way into the stadium for the ski change.
The full seven-member group was soon intact again, however, before Bjoergen’s rivals started dropping off one by one.
Charlotte Kalla of Sweden, the gold medalist in the 10K freestyle race, got tangled up and fell midway through the classical section. She got right back up to join the leaders, but soon fell back and was 28 seconds behind going into the freestyle portion.
Petra Majdic of Slovenia didn’t start after injuring her ribs in a training crash ahead of the sprint, where she won bronze.