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Winter Olympics: First gold goes to Sweden, Koreas in spotlight

The underdog story of Eddie the Eagle

Kalla, who was runner-up to Norway's Marit Bjoergen in Sochi in 2014, made her break at the start of the final lap, opening up a lead that saw her cross the finish line 7.8 seconds ahead of her Norwegian rival to take the first gold of the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Charlotte Kalla of Sweden claimed the first gold of 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games by winning the women's skiathlon at the Alpensia cross-country skiing center here on Saturday.

In the 15-kilometre race, Kalla was able to catch the rest of the field sleeping on the fourth circuit on an uphill section, eventually coming home in a time of 40 minutes, 44.9 seconds.

Granath had no need to worry as Kalla was never in danger of being reeled in by Bjoergen, whose silver made her the first woman to win 11 medals at the Olympic Winter Games. USA racer Jessie Diggins took fifth place, the best individual finish for an American in an Olympic cross-country ski race since 1976. Gold medal events are underway in cross-country skiing, speed skating and more.

All eyes were on Bjoergen in the early stages of the race, as she sought to make history with an 11th medal and seventh gold in the Winter Olympics. "I have been very good for many years but I'm also getting older and the younger girls are getting better", Bjoergen said, according to The Associated Press.

Diggins said she was so nervous before the race that she threw up.

It was the third Olympic gold medal for the 30-year-old Kalla, who won the 10km freestyle at Vancouver in 2010 and followed that up with a win in the 4x5km relay in Sochi four years later.

But Kalla had broken clear by the 12.5km mark and, by 13.5km, she had opened up an unassailable lead of nearly 10 seconds.

Late in the race, Kalla seemed re-energized and pulled away with a burst. And Kalla, now at her third Olympics, showcased the experience and acumen of a champion.

"I didn't know exactly where Marit was, I knew that she was in the group somewhere, so I just tried to focus on my performance and not evaluate what the others did".

Norway's Heidi Weng, the Sochi 2014 bronze medallist, finished in ninth place today.