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Therese Johaug won the first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics on Saturday

Therese Johaug

Zhangjiakou, China: Therese Johaug won the first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics on Saturday, finishing first in the women’s 15-kilometer cross-country skiathlon.

The Norwegian fought wind and frigid temperatures to ski away from a chase group of four.

Russian athlete Natalia Nepryaeva, the current overall World Cup leader, pulled away from the group on the last climb to take silver. Teresa Stadlober of Austria followed just behind for the bronze medal.

The skiathlon is a mass-start race that began with 7.5 kilometers of classic skiing. After two laps around the 3.75-kilometer course, racers came through the stadium and quickly switched to skate skis before heading out for another two laps.

Johaug has won 10 world championship titles but had never before won an individual Olympic gold medal.

Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a skier from China’s Uyghur community who helped light the Olympic cauldron at Friday’s opening ceremony, finished in 43rd place.

Source: AP

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