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April 28, 2017

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Swedes take historic relay double gold

SOCHI, Russia--Sweden on Sunday took gold with a dominant performance in the men's 4x10 kilometers cross-country relay, completing a famous double for the Nordic nation after also winning the women's event.

Sweden defended their relay title from Vancouver and became the first nation since the Soviet Union in Sapporo in 1972 to win both the men's and women's Olympic relay titles.

Swedish anchorman Marcus Hellner was able to enjoy a victorious run into the finish, waving the Swedish flag attached to one of his ski poles, crossing the line for a total time of 1 hour 28 minutes and 42 seconds.

Watched by President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials at the Laura cross-country center, Russia finally showed some cross country form to take silver in 1 hour 29 minutes 9.3 seconds.

Hellner's victory made him one of Sweden's greatest ever Olympians with a total of three gold medals at the Winter Games — only cross country skiers Sixten Jernberg, Gunde Svan and Thomas Wassberg have won more with four.

He won gold in the skiathlon and the relay at the Vancouver Games in 2010 as well as a silver in the skiathlon in Sochi.

"I'm very lucky to be the man that could do it, the man that had the gap — because of these guys. It's incredible," said Hellner.

His teammate Johan Olsson added: "There's no secret, just really hard work. We made the race our own. We set the pace and we knew we were the strongest team."

The hero for Russia was Alexander Legkov, who powered through the third leg, recording by far the fastest leg of the day to make up for a slow start.

"I'm happy for my team and my country. It's good to make everyone realize that we're one of the strongest teams ever," said Legkov.

France's quartet celebrated a surprise bronze.

Norway's fearsome team leader Petter Northug cut a sad and angry figure on the final leg, as his medal-less Olympics continued with just fourth place.

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