Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway triumphed in the women’s freestyle sprint at the Laura Cross-Country Ski & Biathlon Centre on Tuesday afternoon.
With Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg taking the silver behind Falla, and Ola Vigen Hattestad then securing gold in the men’s sprint just minutes later, Norway’s tally of cross-country medals is 102.
“It’s just unbelievable. I can’t believe what I just did. I’ve been dreaming of this since I was three years old,” said an exultant Falla.
Strength in depth
A total of 67 cross-country skiers had started the competition, which began earlier in the morning with a qualification round, with the field then whittled down to 30 athletes, who contested five quarter finals.
The fastest two from each quarter final were joined by two “lucky losers” in the semi-finals, with six from 12 making it through to the afternoon’s final.
The steep 1.3km course proved challenging in the extreme throughout the three rounds leading up to the final, with many athletes struggling to master the tight descents, but the 23-year-old Falla produced a brilliant display of technical prowess mixed with bold tactics, to emerge a worthy winner.
In a stark demonstration of the strength in depth of the Norwegian team, Nordic legend Marit Bjoergen, who won the skiathlon gold at the weekend, did not qualify for the six-strong women’s final.
Falla’s victory took the total number of cross-country medals won by Norwegian athletes at the Olympic Winter Games to 100.