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2ND LEAD Klaebo youngest men's cross-country champion; Nilsson top at last By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe, Europa
13.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Pyeongchang, South Korea (dpa) - Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo confirmed his status as the next big thing in Norwegian cross-country skiing when he became the youngest male Olympic champion in the sport on Tuesday.

Not bothering to wear a cap despite freezing temperatures, Klaebo stormed into the lead on the final uphill to win the classic-style sprint over 1.4 kilometres from Italy‘s Federico Pellegrino and Olympic Athlete from Russia Alexander Bolshunov.

At 21 years and 114 days he was considerably younger then Swede Gunda Svan, who won 15km gold in 1984 aged 22 years and 32 days.

While Klaebo made it two wins out of two for the Norwegian men, the country‘s women again lost out to Sweden, with Stina Nilsson winning her first major title when she denied Norway‘s Maiken Caspersen Falla first-ever back-to-back sprint golds.

Charlotte Kalla had won the skiathlon for the Swedish women on Saturday, while Simen Hegstad Krueger had led a Norwegian sweep in the men‘s skiathlon.

Klaebo missed the podium in that race by placing 10th but was on fire on Tuesday in the sprint, where he won five of six World Cup season races and came second in the other one.

He stormed past Bolshunov on the last uphill and coasted home after entering the home straight with a massive lead, clocking 3 minutes 5.75 seconds.

The fight for silver was far more dramatic, with the freestyle specialist and world champion Pellegrino pipping Bolshunov by two hundredths of a second but readily admitting that "Klaebo was too young and too fast for me."

Klaebo was proud he had managed to withstand the big pressure as a nine-time overall season winner and deliver the desired gold.

"This was the goal for the whole season. To deal with the pressure over the last weeks was like a victory," Klaebo said. "Now I can sleep with a big smile on my face.

"I was thinking about the last uphill for a while. My plan was always to run fast on the last uphill. To get the gap was an unbelievable feeling but I had to stay focused to bring it to the finish line."

Meanwhile Nilsson, who had won four silvers and a bronze at past major events, was never troubled en route to that elusive gold, leading from the start and clocking 3:03.84 minutes over 1.2km.

World champion Caspersen beat Olympic Athlete from Russia Yuliya Belorukova to silver.

"I had a really good day, I felt strong from the prologue onwards," Nilsson said.

"There was not so much pressure. Most pressure comes from myself. Today I managed to control those feelings and ski as fast as I can."

 

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