PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Charlotte Kalla won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Games a few hours before Lim Hyo-jun earned host country South Korea its first gold.
In the first medal event of the Winter Olympics on Saturday, Kalla won the women’s 15-kilometer skiathlon by more than 7 seconds. Later in the day, Lim crossed the finish line first in the men’s 1,500-meter short-track speedskating event, setting off a huge roar from a capacity crowd at Gangneung Ice Arena.
Lim pushed past Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands, finishing in an Olympic-record of 2 minutes, 10.485 seconds. Knegt won silver while bronze went to Semen Elistratov, who was the first Russian medalist of the games.
For Kalla, it was her sixth career Olympic medal – and third gold.
Marit Bjoergen finished behind Kalla for silver, but made Olympic history by becoming the most decorated female Winter Olympian ever. The Norwegian won her 11th career medal to break a tie with Raisa Smetanina of Russia and Stefania Belmondo of Italy.
Kalla pulled away during the last half of the race in a dominant finish.
“It feels very good to be ahead of Marit,” the Swede said. “She’s a fantastic skier.”
The 37-year-old Bjoergen raised her arms as she crossed the finish, knowing she reached the career milestone. Norway also tied Russia for the most medals of all time in women’s cross-country skiing with 37.
“I have been very good for many years,” Bjoergen said, “but I’m also getting older and the younger girls are getting better.”
Bjoergen, who will participate in the women’s sprint on Tuesday, said this will be her final Olympics but isn’t sure how many other races she’ll participate in in Pyeongchang.
Jessica Diggins placed fifth, missing a chance to become the first American woman to earn a medal in cross-country skiing. Diggins was third in the World Cup standings coming into the race.
The Dutch are off to a great start on the Olympic speedskating oval again with a sweep of the medals in the women’s 3,000-meter race.
Carlijn Achtereekte surprisingly beat two-time 3,000-meter champion Ireen Wust. Antoinette de Jong finished third for the bronze.
The Netherlands won 23 of 36 speedskating medals in Sochi four years ago.
Alina Muller scored four goals, including three in the first period, to lead Switzerland over Korea 8-0 in the preliminary round for women’s hockey.
The first combined Korean team was clearly overmatched by the Swiss, but that didn’t mute fans’ enthusiasm for a team dressing three North Koreans.
Earlier, Sara Hjalmarsson scored 1:53 into the third period and Sweden held off Japan 2-1 earlier.
It was only Japan’s third appearance in the Olympics for women’s hockey, and they had to start off pool play against a country that took home silver in 2006 and bronze in 2002.
Germany takes two golds
Laura Dahlmeier pushed through bitterly cold conditions to win gold in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint biathlon after hitting all 10 of her targets.
Marte Olsbu of Norway won silver and Veronika Vitkova of the Czech Republic earned bronze.
Elsewhere, Andreas Wellinger won the gold in men’s ski jumping. Norway won the silver and bronze with Johann Andre Forfang in second and Robert Johansson in third.
American siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani will compete in the ice dance and Bradie Tennell in the women’s short program when the team competition resumes Sunday at Gangneung Ice Arena.
The American team, second behind Canada after the pairs and men’s short programs, waited until the last possible moment to announce its lineup in a bit of gamesmanship with its rival nations.
The top five nations after their short programs advance to the free skate later Sunday.