Therese Johaug Wins Gold Medal for Cross-Country Olympics 2022 7.5 km Skiathlon

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 5, 2022

ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 05: Therese Johaug of Team Norway celebrates crossing the finish line to win the gold medal during the Women's Cross Country 7.5km + 7.5km Skiathlon on Day 1 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at The National Cross-Country Skiing Centre on February 05, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Norway's Therese Johaug became the first gold medalist of the 2022 Winter Olympics with her triumph in the women's 7.5km + 7.5km Skiathlon at the Kuyangshu Nordic Center and Biathlon Center in China.

Johaug finished first in the classic portion of the race and second in the freestyle to win the event by just over 30 seconds on Saturday.

Here's a look at the podium:

  • Gold: Therese Johaug (NOR): 44:13.7
  • Silver: Natalia Nepryaeva (ROC): +30.2
  • Bronze: Teresa Stadlober (AUT): +30.5
NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

THE FIRST GOLD MEDAL of the 2022 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WinterOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WinterOlympics</a> goes to Norway!<br><br>Therese Johaug wins the women's skiathlon! <a href="https://t.co/HF7UadQY3D">pic.twitter.com/HF7UadQY3D</a>

It's the second Olympic gold medal for Johaug, who was previously part of the winning Norwegian team in the women's 4x5-kilometer relay at the 2010 Vancouver Games. She also won two medals, a silver and bronze, at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

She missed the 2018 Games while serving an 18-month suspension after she tested positive for clostebol, a synthetic anabolic-androgenic steroid, in September 2016.

"It's a dream come true. I've been training a lot for this for many, many years. And it's been a special week for us; we just came here two days ago," Johaug told reporters.

In addition to her four Olympic medals, she's also won 19 medals at the World Championships, including 14 golds.

While Johaug dominated the field, it was an intense race for silver between Nepryaeva and Stadlober that came down to the wire and was decided by fractions of a second in favor of the Russian.

"I'm pleased to get silver," Nepryaeva said. "It's my first time to produce a performance like this at the Olympic Games, and it gives me a lot of confidence for the races later this week. I feel very powerful now."

The United States' Jessie Diggins dropped as low as 15th early in the race before making a remarkable surge during the final few kilometers. She made up 27.5 seconds on Johaug over the final 1.2 kilometers, but it wasn't quite enough to earn a podium spot.

Diggins teamed with Kikkan Randall to win gold in the women's cross-country skiing team sprint at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Other American finishers Saturday included Rosie Brennan (14th), Hailey Swirbul (40th) and Julia Kern (53rd).

The cross-country skiing schedule resumes Sunday with the men's Skiathlon (15km + 15km).