Johaug wins first gold of Beijing Games

Norwegian cross-country ski star Therese Johaug won individual Olympic gold at last when she dominated the first medal event of the Beijing Winter Games.

Johaug, 33, was on fire in freezing temperatures of -13C for victory in Saturday’s 7.5km + 7.5km skiathlon, which she led by one second after the classic style portion before destroying the field in the freestyle section.

Johaug won gold in 44 minutes 13.7 seconds, screaming in delight and pumping her fists as she crossed the line.

Tour de Ski winner Natalia Nepryaeva from the Russian team trailed by 30.2 seconds for silver.

Teresa Stadlober became the first woman from Austria to win a cross-country medal at the Olympics with bronze, another .3 of a second behind.

Johaug had won relay gold in 2010 plus 30km silver and 10km bronze in 2014 before missing the 2018 Games over a doping ban.

The 14-time world champion had rarely competed in the World Cup this season, skipping the Tour de Ski and other events as she concentrated on the Olympics.

She will also be a hot contender in the 10km and 30km later at the Games, having also won all three races at the last two worlds.

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