ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA (AP) – Iivo Niskanen (AFP pic above) of Finland won gold in the 15-kilometre cross country race at the Beijing Olympics yesterday to maintain his dominance in classic skiing.
Niskanen crossed the line and collapsed, spread eagle, with a time of 37 minutes, 54.8 seconds. It was his third Olympic gold. He won the 50km classic race in Pyeongchang and the classic team sprint at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Alexander Bolshunov of Russia came in 23.2 seconds back to earn silver, while Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo of Norway secured the bronze 37.5 seconds behind the Finn.
Both Bolshunov and Klaebo have won gold medals at the Beijing Olympics – Bolshunov in the skiathlon and Klaebo in the sprint.
Niskanen had a 28.8-second lead over Bolshunov at the 10.5km mark and was 52.5 seconds faster than Klaebo at that point in the race, and he held it to the finish.
Niskanen’s sister, Kerttu, won the silver medal Thursday in the women’s 10-kilometre classic race, finishing just 0.4 seconds behind Theresa Johaug of Norway.
Niskanen and Bolshunov had led the classic ski portion of the skiathlon, the opening cross-country race of the Beijing Olympics, but Bolshunov and Denis Spitzov skied away from Niskanen when the race switched to freestyle skiing. Spitzov took the silver and Niskanen bronze.