WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Norway's Petter Northug won his fourth medal of the Olympics, using his trademark sprint to overtake Germany's Axel Teichmann on the final straightaway Sunday and capture the 50-kilometer classical cross-country race.
Northug blew a kiss toward the sky after crossing the finish line for his second gold medal in Vancouver. He had anchored Norway to victory in the team sprint — also pushing past Teichmann near the end — and won a bronze medal in the individual sprint and silver in the relay.
After struggling in the previous individual distance races in Vancouver, everything came together for Northug in the sport's premier event.
"To be the Olympic champion in the 50K is the biggest boyhood dream of my life," Northug said. "I didn't think I was among the favorites. I've been tired, and there has been something missing in these championships."
In a race that didn't feature a single serious breakaway attempt, Northug was able to do what he does best in mass-start events. He tagged behind the leaders much of the way before deciding the race with his unrivaled closing ability.
He entered the stadium for the final loop with Teichmann ahead of him, but went up side by side with the German after the final curve and steadily moved ahead.
"I knew I could take him," Northug said. "But I didn't know who was behind me."
Northug finished Sunday's race in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 35.5 seconds, with Teichmann 0.3 seconds back for the silver medal. Johan Olsson of Sweden took bronze, a second back.
Teichmann is getting used to seeing Northug swoosh past him near the end, and had tried to pull away in the final kilometer.
"For sure, I wanted to get a gap," the German said. "I had to take the opportunity at the last hill."
Still, Teichmann said he was surprised just to be on the podium.
"I never thought that I would make it to the top, so I didn't bring clothes with me for the flower ceremony," he said.
Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic, one of the favorites, spent much of the last 20K near the lead but faded toward the end and ended up 12th. Dario Cologna of Switzerland, who won the opening 15K freestyle race, was part of a group of skiers chasing Teichmann into the stadium but fell on the final straightaway.
"It is very hard now because I was so close to a medal," Cologna said. "If you are so close to a second, it is very, very hard."