Ski star Nepryaeva wins first medal for Russian team in Beijing


Russian skier Natalia Nepryaeva has won her nation’s first medal of the Beijing Winter Olympics, claiming silver in the 15km skiathlon

Natalia Nepryaeva has claimed the first medal for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team at the Beijing Winter Olympics after she won silver in the women’s 15km skiathlon.

Nepryaeva finished second behind Norway’s Therese Johaug, while Teresa Stadlober of Austria picked up the bronze.

Johaug covered the 15km distance – split into 7.5km of classic technique and 7.5km of freestyle – in 44 minutes, 13.7 seconds.

Nepryaeva finished 30.2 seconds behind Johaug, but edged out Stadlober by 0.3 seconds in a thrilling battle for second spot.

“It was very difficult weather, very cold, especially cold during the classic [stage],” Nepryaeva told Match TV of the freezing conditions in Beijing.

“But it was the same for everyone. I was determined to give my maximum. I’m glad everything worked out. I don’t even realize it yet, but I’m extremely happy. Everything wasn’t in vain.”

Nepryaeva (L) won silver in Beijing. © AP Photo/Aaron Favila

For Nepryaeva, 26, it is a second Olympic medal after she claimed bronze as part of the 4 x 5km relay event in Pyeongchang four years ago.

Nepryaeva made history back in January when she became the first Russian woman to win the prestigious Tour de Ski title, which is a six-stage tour at venues across Europe.

The Tver-born skier has further etched her name into the record books by picking up the first medal of the 2022 Winter Games for the ROC team.

Nepryaeva’s teammates Anastasia Rygalina and Tatiana Sorina finished in eighth and 11th places respectively in Saturday’s race at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Center.

ROC member Yulia Stupak was further back in 24th place.

ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said ahead of the Games that the team is aiming for around 30 medals in Beijing – an improvement on the 17 it won at the last Winter Games in South Korea.

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