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Finland wins bronze in opening Olympic skiathlon event

Skier Krista Pärmäkoski took home Finland's first medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics on Saturday, winning third place in the women's 15-kilometre skiathlon.

Krista Pärmäkoski tuulettaa
Krista Pärmäkoski crosses the finish line for the bronze medal Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Finland secured an Olympic medal already on day one of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Saturday, when Krista Pärmäkoski won third place in the 7.5 km + 7.5 km skiathlon women's cross-country skiing event.

Pärmäkoski came in 10.1 seconds behind the gold medal winner, Sweden's Charlotte Kalla. Norway's Marit Björgen came in second for the silver, trailing Kalla by 7.8 seconds.

"When I set out today, I was thinking that I don't necessarily have to do well, there will be other chances. But this is just amazing that I succeeded already in this first event. Now I will for sure be able to relax as I continue," the bronze-medal winner told Yle.

The bronze medal is Pärmäkoski's first Olympic medal in an individual event. Hailing from the municipality of Ikaalinen in western Finland, the 27-year-old has previously won a silver medal as part of the 4 x 5 km relay team in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, along with several World Cup distinctions.

The event required the competitors to ski two 7.5-kilometre stretches, the first in the classic style (the skis remain parallel), and the second in what is called freestyle (the skiers can "skate-ski", as if they were ice skating, to gain propulsion).

The first of many medals for Pärmäkoski?

Multiple world champion Björgen set the pace for the top competitors before the transition to the freestyle portion, but Kalla left her peers behind in the uphill portions of the freestyle leg. Finland's Pärmäkoski held her own for third place, especially during the classic part of the tough competition.

Finnish skier Kerttu Niskanen was also among the top skiers until the end of the competition, and she came in 16th overall. Laura Mononen came in 19th and Johanna Matintalo came in 24th, in her Olympic debut.

Pärmäkoski is also a favourite to win in the upcoming 10 km freestyle, the 30 km classic, and the women's relay events.

"I've been sick along the way, but it looks like I'm in good enough shape to stay in the fight for top positions," Pärmäkoski said, fresh from her exhilarating win.

There are 106 athletes representing Finland in 11 sports at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The games will run from February 9 to 25.

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