ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – Therese Johaug knows she has a target on her back after her dominant skiathlon win at the Winter Games, but the Norwegian says the Chinese courses are bringing the best out of her.
The 33-year-old’s joy at finally achieving her solo Olympic gold https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/cross-country-skiing-norways-johaug-finally-achieves-solo-gold-dream-2022-02-05 dream on Saturday was unconfined, and she heads into Thursday’s 10 km classic race relaxed and aware that the rest of the field has her in their sights.
“I know that the other girls are really motivated to fight and I have to go fast if I am to reach my dream again,” she told reporters.
Johaug picked up a relay gold in her maiden Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 and added solo and silver bronze medals in Sochi in 2014 before missing the Pyeongchang Games due to a doping suspension. She finally snared a solo gold medal in her first race at the Beijing Games.
“My dream and my goal before this Games was to take one individual gold medal, so that means a lot. But when you have tasted this gold medal you want more, so I will go fast tomorrow and for the rest of the competitions here,” she said.
Johaug singled out the Finnish pairing of Krista Parmakoski and Kerttu Niskanen as the main threats to her in Thursday’s race, and suggested that her powerful skiing might give her an advantage on the slow tracks in Zhangjiakou.
“I love these tracks here. They are really tough. They are different from the cross-country tracks in the World Cup, especially because the snow is so slow. But I’m so happy and I like this course here,” she said.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Himani Sarkar)