Russian women power to Beijing skiing gold
The Russian women’s cross-country skiing team has won a brilliant gold medal in the 4x5km relay at the Beijing Games, finishing ahead of Germany and Sweden.
The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) quartet of Tatiana Sorina, Veronika Stepanova, Yulia Stupak and Natalia Nepryaeva came home in a time of 53:41.0 – more than 18 seconds clear of nearest rivals Germany.
The gold medal is the ROC's third in total at the Beijing Games, following success for men's skier Alexander Bolshunov and Russian figure skaters in the team event.
Saturday's success at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Center is the first time a Russian women's team has won the 4x5km relay title since 2006.
For team member Nepryaeva it is a second medal of the Beijing Games, following her silver in the skiathlon last weekend, which opened the ROC's medal account in China.
Nepryaeva and Stupak also both add to the bronze medal they won in the same event in PyeongChang four years ago – but this time will stand proudly at the top of the podium.
Leading the Russian team home on the final leg was 21-year-old Stepanova, who has been a revelation since joining the senior team ranks.
Both she and teammate Sorina, 27, have now claimed maiden Olympic medals.
The gold has lifted the ROC team up to seventh in the Beijing medal table, where they have 13 medals in total, including four silver and six bronze.
Leading the way is the German team with seven golds, followed by Norway and the USA with six and five gold medals respectively.