PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Stina Nilsson swept aside the field in the Olympic women’s sprint classic final on Tuesday, powering to victory in a time of 3:03.8 to secure Sweden’s second cross-country gold of the Games.
Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway, who won the event in Sochi four years ago, took the silver medal and Yulia Belorukova, representing the Olympic Athletes of Russia, claimed the bronze.
Strong winds again whipped up the snow on the course as the field was whittled down from 68 starters to the six who contested the final.
The 24-year-old Stina, who has a superb sprinting pedigree, took control early in each of her races and the final was no different as she sped away up the first hill.
The sprint around the 1,176-metre course requires maximum effort and leaves no margin for error, but Nilsson barely had to look over her shoulder as she glided across the line, arms aloft, to claim victory just over three seconds ahead of Falla.
The Norwegian was locked in a furious battle for second with the 24-year-old Belorukova, and she had to call on every ounce of her experience to hold off the challenge of the Russian in a sprint finish, sliding a ski over the line to claim the silver.
Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ed Osmond