ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Waving to fans before she even crossed the finish line, Norway’s Therese Johaug claimed the first medal of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, winning the women’s 15km skiathlon in a thoroughly dominating performance. The Russian Olympic Committee’s Natalia Nepryaeva won silver, edging out Austria’s Teresa Stadlober by three-tenths of a second. Jessie Diggins finished first for Team USA, 50.5 seconds off Johaug’s pace.
Started under windy, chilly conditions at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Center, the skiathlon combines two types of cross-country skiing, classical and freestyle. The racers switch skis and styles at the halfway point, after one lap around a winding, hilly course, and the best combined time wins. Johaug finished in 44:13.7 minutes, 30 seconds ahead of her nearest rivals.
Diggins had placed fifth in this event at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. Her historic gold medal during that Games came in the team sprint event, alongside former teammate Kikkan Randall, and marked the first-ever gold medal for the United States in cross-country skiing. She’ll have multiple opportunities to capture another medal, as cross-country events run right on through the final day of the Games on Feb. 20.
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