Gold and Bronze to Sweden: A last-minute burst of speed sent Marcus Hellner flying past Petter Northug for the gold medal in the 30 kilometer pursuit. Hellner's compatriot and good friend Johan Olsson settling for the bronze after leading for most of the closing freestyle stage. Northug, gold medalist in the event at last year's world championships, faded over the last half a kilometer to come home 11th.
Marcus Hellner upstaged favorite Petter Northug of Norway with a stunning late burst of skating to win the men's cross country 30 kilometer pursuit Feb. 20 at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
On a surprisingly warm day in the Whistler mountains, the 24-year-old Hellner charged clear of a tight bunch of four skiers on the final loop of the circuit to complete the course in one hour, 15 minutes 11.4 seconds.
Germany's Tobias Angerer took silver, 2.1 seconds behind, with Hellner's compatriot and good friend Johan Olsson settling for the bronze after leading for most of the closing freestyle stage.
Northug, gold medalist in the event at last year's world championships, faded over the last half a kilometer to come home 11th.
"This feels really good," Hellner said after clinching his first Olympic medal with a sensational finish in front of a packed stadium. "When one of my best friends is on the podium the feeling is even better.”
Hellner, who finished fourth in the men's 15km freestyle on Monday, raised both arms skywards as he crossed the finish line before pumping his right fist in celebration.
Wearing his trademark reflective blue sunglasses, he covered his head as if in disbelief before skiing off to savor his golden moment.
Czech Lukas Bauer and Swiss Dario Cologna had duelled for the lead over the first 15 kilometres, Bauer holding a slender advantage when the race changed from the classic technique to freestyle.
However, the Czech took a long time to switch his skis and poles and had slipped back to 35th place by the time he left the pit stop with Olsson having charged ahead of the pack.
"I had a really good pit stop," Olsson, 29, said. "I felt really good after the classic skiing and had a lot of power left."
Olsson, who won a bronze medal in the 4x10km relay at the 2006 Turin Games, built a 17.1-second lead with 7.5 kilometers to go but that was steadily cut as Hellner, Angerer and Russian Alexander Legkov positioned themselves for a tense sprint finish.
Marcus Hellner raised his arms in triumph as he wins the 30 kilometer pursuit cross country race at the Vancouver Games. Bildbyran photo