History was made on Sunday when the ROC men’s 4x10km relay team won Olympic gold with a time of 1:54:50.7. The team of Alexey Chervotkin, Alexander Bolshunov, Denis Spitsov and Sergey Ustiugov pushed the tempo to find a huge lead and kept the chase group comfortably around 50 seconds back at each exchange. The men’s quartet joined their women’s team for a relay sweep in the cross-country program at the 2022 Winter Olympics. This was the first time the ROC won gold in the men’s 4x10km relay since 1980 in Lake Placid when they were entered under the Soviet Union.
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The Norwegian team, anchored by Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, chased down ROC, but could not come within striking distance to take the gold. They ended the relay with silver at 1:55:57.9. France’s Maurice Manificat took the lead ahead of Klaebo on the incline in the last leg and had a glimpse of clinching silver. Klaebo answered back, and flew past Manificat on the downhill to beat him to the line. France’s relay team finished the race at 1:56:07.1.
Each skier finished three laps of 3.3km. ROC’s Chervotkin started out the first leg and shot away from competitors to gain a lead of over half a minute. At just 26 years old, his gutsy performance in Beijing could land him another spot on ROC’s Olympic relay team at the 2028 Winter Olympics in Milan. Chervotkin pulled away from the first chase group on downhills and set up his teammate Bolshunov for success in his second leg of the race. This was Chervotkin’s first Olympic gold medal.
Bolshunov’s skis were waxed to perfection to help him finish his laps in lightning speed as he double-poled his way up steep inclines. He continued ROC’s margin on the chase group with over 30 seconds on second place Paal Golberg of Norway. There was nothing Goldberg could do to catch Bolshunov and lost a second off ROC’s best classical skier per kilometer. Bolshunov is the reigning overall World Cup winner and a threatening classic skier with great tempo and rhythm. He ended his leg of the race around a minute ahead of Goldberg.
Spitzov entered the third leg of the relay in freestyle and maintained his speed to keep ROC’s lead consistent. He was steady on his skis and finished climbs when second and third were just beginning. It became a race for silver in the third leg with ROC convincingly solidified in first at the last exchange. He looked back and gave staff members high fives as he neared the top of the incline and started celebrating before the race was finished. He put another 10 seconds on the pack after coming off the downhill and cruised to the finishing line waving the ROC flag in the home stretch.
The next men’s cross-country skiing event will be the team sprint classic. It gets underway on Feb. 16 at 6:30 a.m. ET.
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