Russian team win first Beijing gold


Alexander Bolshunov took home top honors for the ROC in the skiathlon on Sunday

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) celebrated its first gold medal of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday after Alexander Bolshunov won the men’s 30km skiathlon at the Kuyangshu Nordic Center and Biathlon Center in Zhangjiakou.

Claiming three silvers and a bronze at Pyeongchang 2018, the 25-year-old finally dominated the 15km + 15km event with a time of 1:16:09.8 in freezing conditions.

In an impressive performance from the Russian team, Denis Spitsov (1:17:20.8) completed an ROC 1-2 to clinch silver, with 2018 50km gold medalist Iivo Niskanen (1:18:10.0) delivering bronze for Finland in third place.

Bolshunov suffered an early scare when he fell at the start of the cross-country skiing race, which has competitors rely on their own locomotion as opposed to using ski lifts, but rallied back to lead by a minute with four kilometers to spare.

Roaring in delight while closing in on victory, Bolshunov coasted through the final seconds of an event that is usually much closer, and took an ROC flag from the crowd to celebrate his triumph of 71 seconds over second-place Spitsov with a bow.

Alexander Bolshunov and Denis Spitsov completed a Russian gold-silver medal finish in Beijing. © Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Meeting Spitsov with a hug at the finish line as his compatriot – who also fell near the end of the race – bagged second place, the pair improved an already impressive Day 2 for the ROC which finished on top in the figure skating Team Event to close in on gold on Monday.

The ROC has achieved four medals at the Games thus far with two silvers and a bronze complimenting Bolshunov’s gold.

When I went one minute clear, I realized that was it, that’s enough – it’s time to celebrate,” Bolshunov said afterwards via translation.

The finish with the flag was something unreal. I want to dedicate this victory to all the fans – those who supported me and believed. To my family, who supported me the most.

I also want to congratulate my father, who had his birthday yesterday. There was no gift yesterday, but I understood that the next day was a race, and the main gift that I can give him is what I did today.”

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