Norway Wins Gold Medal for Cross-Country Olympics 2018 4x5 Km Relay

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2018

Norway's Marit Bjorgen (L) leads ahead of Sweden's Stina Nilsson during the women's 4x5km classic free style cross country relay at the Alpensia cross country ski centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang.  / AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSEN        (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Norway claimed gold ahead of defending Olympic champions Sweden in the women's 4x5-kilometre cross-country skiing relay, recording a time of 51 minutes, 24.3 seconds at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

A thrilling race came down to a contest between Marit Bjorgen and Stina Nilsson, with the former taking gold by two seconds and picking up her 13th medal to pull level with compatriot Ole Einar Bjorndalen as the joint-most decorated Winter Olympian of all time.

The Olympic Athletes from Russia rounded out the podium. Here are the times:

Norway (Ingvild Oestberg, Astrid Jacobsen, Ragnhild Haga, Marit Bjorgen)51:24.3

Sweden (Anna Haag, Charlotte Kalla, Ebba Andersson, Stina Nilsson)51:26.3

OAR (Natalia Nepryaeva, Yulia Belorukova, Anastasia Sedova, Anna Nechaevskaya)52:07.6


Here's the updated medal table:

The Russian team set the pace early on, with Natalia Nepryaeva setting a time of 13:24.5 over the first five kilometres, ahead of Norway and Slovenia.

Sweden deployed Charlotte Kalla, who won the 15-kilometre skiathlon earlier in the Games, in the second leg.

Kalla was tasked with making up a 25.8 second deficit—similar to the gap she made up in the anchor leg at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, to beat Germany and Finland in one of the most dramatic races of all time.

The Russian team maintained the lead into the second changeover, but Kalla had closed the gap to just 1.7 seconds, and Sweden led in third exchange thanks to Ebba Andersson.

However, Norway—who were 29.8 seconds back at the halfway point—were just 3.4 seconds behind after a superb leg from Ragnhild Haga, who set up the final showdown between Bjorgen and individual sprint gold medallist Nilsson as OAR faded.

Bjorgen quickly took a narrow lead, but with Nilsson less than a second behind heading into the closing stages, sports journalist Jonathan Harris-Bass warned of an explosive finish from the sprinter:

Jonathan Harris-Bass @Jono_HB

Stina Nilsson has an incredible finish - Bjoergen will probably need some distance between herself and the Swede before the final approach. Tense times at the Alpensia venue (above a sentence I never thought I'd write). @Eurosport_UK #live #PyeongChang2018

The 37-year-old veteran held off her younger rival, though, per journalist Gavin Day:

Gavin Day @gavinlday

What a finishing kick by Bjoergen. Crushed Nilsson and made sure there was no chance of being beaten in the sprint. #Pyeongchang2018

Bjorgen will have the chance to surpass Bjorndalen with a 14th Olympic medal in the 30-kilometre mass start on the final day of the Games.