In what might be the rematch of the games, Finland’s Iivo Niskanen faced Alexander Bolshunov of the Russian Olympic Committee in the 15-kilometer individual start classic event. In the opening event of the Games, the 30 k mass start skiathlon, Niskanen and Bolshunov raced together to set the pace well off the front of the men’s pack for the first 15 k, raced classic, but Niskanen could not hold the effort in the freestyle half. Bolshunov skated away for gold.
With a World Championship gold medal from 2017 and a bronze from 2019 in the 15 k classic, along with 12 World Cup podiums in the event, seven of which are wins, Niskanen is perhaps a specialist in the event.
Niskanen led through each of the time splits from the 3k time check, with Bolshunov building into the race to establish himself as the primary opponent before the second lap.
Ultimately, Niskanen’s lead only grew as he skied smoothly for the win in 37:54.8. Bolshunov held his position for the silver medal (+23.2) with sprint gold medalist Johannes Høsflot Klæbo of Norway taking the bronze (+37.5).
The top American on the day was Scott Patterson in 38th (+3:28.3), with Ben Ogden next in 42nd (+3:35.0). Gus Schumacher skied through the finish in 48th (+3:58.6), with JC Schoonmaker rounding out Team USA’s starters in 66th (+5:36.8).
Racing for Canada, Olivier Léveillé was the top finisher in 29th (+2:57.2), with Rémi Drolet next in 33rd (+3:12.9), and Antoine Cyr in 37th (+3:22.9).
Rachel is an endurance sport enthusiast based in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. You can find her cruising around on skinny skis, running in the mountains with her pup, or chasing her toddler (born Oct. 2018). Instagram: @bachrunner4646