Alexander Bolshunov earned his second gold medal at Beijing 2022 by helping the Russian Olympic Committee win the men's 4x10km cross-country skiing relay, giving his team a massive lead that they never relinquished.
The Russian quartet of Alexey Chervotkin, Bolshunov, Denis Spitsov and Sergey Ustiugov finished more than a minute clear of the chasing pack in a race that was effectively decided by the halfway stage. Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo secured silver for Norway by pulling away from Maurice Manificat near the end as France settled for bronze.
While most teams put their strongest skier on the anchor leg, the Russians used Bolshunov on the second leg and that strategy paid off massively as he was able to create an insurmountable gap to the field. Bolshunov inherited a lead of 23 seconds from Chervotkin and was a full minute ahead of his closest rivals by the second exchange.
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That meant the last two legs mainly became a procession to the finish for Spitsov and Ustiugov as the Russians completed a sweep of the cross-country skiing relays, having won the women's 4x5km event on Saturday. Ustiugov was able to grab an ROC flag to wave as he skied down the final straight toward his three team-mates, who were waiting at the finish line to celebrate.
The race for silver was far closer as Norway, Sweden and France stayed together in a three-way pack where only two of them could end up with medals.
Norwegian star Klaebo set a furious pace on the anchor leg and Sweden's Johan Haeggstroem could not keep up, making it a two-way fight against France's Manificat for the silver. But Klaebo, who won the 15km race ahead of Bolshunov, proved far stronger in the end as he pulled away from Manificat before entering the stadium for the final time. Norway finished 1:07.2 behind Russia, with France another nine seconds behind.
Bolshunov also won the 30km skiathlon in Beijing in dominant fashion - finishing 70 seconds ahead of the pack - and will enter the 50km race as the heavy favourite.
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