Stadlooper, who started the successful Beijing Games for Austria with her impressive bronze medal in figure skating, narrowly missed out on the top 10 this time around. The 29-year-old from Salzburg finished 11th in the group start at Zhangjiakou, just 1.5 seconds ahead of 10th-placed Christa Barmakoski from Finland.
The woman from Salzburg ran initially in the somewhat larger third group. The group reunited with the top runners in the middle of the race, trailing behind Johaug, Diggins and Anderson. When the speed increased after about 25 kilometers, Stadlober could no longer keep up and finally ended up behind Pärmäkoski.
Muscles do not play along
“My muscles weren’t able to run for a medal,” Stadlober said after the very tough race. “It’s tough, it’s not normal anymore,” she said of the conditions. “It was such a wind and very slow.” The cold and wind added to the pressure on the difficult path: “My fingers and toes froze.” Stomach problems, did not go according to plan. “I didn’t recover well from the team race. It cost me a lot of strength, I don’t stress myself out anymore.”
Stadlober still travels home as the most successful Austrian cross-country skater in Winter Olympic history. After a bronze in the ski race on the first day, she finished ninth in the classic over 10km race and sixth with Lisa Unterweger in the team sprint. “It was great matches for me with the medal at first. If someone had told me that before, I probably wouldn’t believe it. I’m very happy with the way it went,” the 29-year-old said.
Johog leaves early
Johaug, who won her third gold in 2022 and her fourth Olympic gold overall after her snowboarding successes and over 10km classic, was also untouchable at the finish. “It’s great, I came to Beijing without an individual medal, now I have three medals and I can finish my Olympic career with it,” said the 33-year-old. The “Queen of Tracks” from Zhangjiakou was 1:43.3 minutes ahead of Diggins (+1:43.3), and Niskanen, who caught Sweden’s Ebba Anderson at the finish, was 2:33.3 minutes behind the winner.
In the freezing temperatures and strong winds, which brought the start of the last race up by three and a half hours until 4:00 a.m. CET, the Norwegian picked up speed from the start and immediately tore the field, opening at the start of the second of four laps and ran solo for the medal Gold in her last Olympic race. The increased pace brought some runners closer to Anderson, Niskanen rewarded herself with a bronze medal after the final sprint.
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