Therese Johaug wins historic fifth Skiathlon World title as Alexander Bolshunov bags his first

Norway's Therese Johaug became the world champs most successful skiathlete ever in Oberstdorf, while Bolshunov finally claimed gold after four second-place finishes

By Ken Browne
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Alexander Bolshunov and Therese Johaug are men's and women's 2021 skiathlon cross country skiing world champions after a scintillating Saturday (27 February) on the snow at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Oberstdorf, Germany.

Three-time Olympic medallist Johaug became the most successful skiathlete in the history of the discipline at these worlds claiming a fifth women's skiathlon medal.

The Norwegian was in a different class, successfully defending her crown with 30 seconds to spare over Sweden's Frida Karlsson in second and Ebba Andersson third.

While in the men's event, Bolshunov had to hold off Norwegians Simen Hegstad Krüger and Hans Christer Holund in a thrilling dash to line, the trio breaking away from the rest of the pack.

Bolshunov, representing RSF, clocked 1:11:33.9 with Krueger just six-tenths of a second adrift, and Holund a fraction behind him.

It's a sweet victory for Bolshunov who won three Olympic silver medals and a bronze at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics, then four silver medals at the 2019 Worlds in Seefeld.

Still only 24, it may be the first of many.

Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo finished fourth following a successful defence of his individual sprint world title on Thursday.

Therese Johaug looks unbeatable

Norway's Johaug came home in 38:35.5 in the 15km, powering ahead of Swedish chasers Frida Karlsson who clocked 39:05.5 and Ebba Andersson (39.05.7).

Johaug proved once again that she is the dominant force in this event, and is in incredible shape less than a year out from the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

In 2016, Johaug looked a shoe-in for a medal at the PyeongChang 2018 Games, but she was given an 18-month suspension for a doping violation.

Now 32, the Norwegian isn't slowing down and could make China her Games.

Gold at last for Bolshunov

It's been a wild ride for Alexander Bolshunov. The Russian has stood on four Olympic and four World Championship podiums before his 25th birthday, but always in second or third place.

Gold here in Oberstdorf is a sign of his maturity and could be a turning point in a sport he has the potential to dominate. This ski prodigy, who won two U23 World titles, is now on the winners' top step.

The overall World Cup winner in 2020 and 2021, he's now claimed his first world champs gold medal and will definitely be out to do some damage at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.