Croatian cross-country skier Marko Skender (20) finished his debut performance at the Beijing Winter Olympics in 57th place in the ski marathon (mass start), which, due to the great cold (-16 degrees) and icy wind, was shortened from the usual 50 kilometers to the “women’s version” of the same discipline – 30 km.
The gold medal was won by the Russian Alexander Bolshunov (25), who finished on the podium for the third time at the Chinese National Cross-Country Ski Center Zhangjiakou (for the fifth medal in Beijing in total). He triumphed with a time of 1:11:32.7, or 5.5 seconds ahead of second-placed compatriot Ivan Jakimushkin and precisely 7 seconds ahead of third-placed Norwegian Simen Hegstad Krueger.
Marko Skender managed to finish the race with great perseverance and enter the finish line 19:01.8 minutes behind the Olympic winner Bolshunov. Weaker than Skender in this race were Brazilian Manex Silva and Greek Apostolos Angelis. This is also Skender’s best placement at the Beijing Games – he was 69th in the sprint, while he took 85th place in the 15 km race.
The youngest Croatian Olympian and marathon skier Tena Hadžić will thus carry the Croatian flag at the closing ceremony of the XXIV Winter Olympics on Sunday (1 pm local time), announced the Croatian Olympic Committee (COC).
According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules, at the closing ceremony of the Games, the flag can be carried by one athlete.
Most of Croatia’s representatives have already left the Chinese capital, so this honor remained in the competence of the cross-country skiing trio.
Since Marko Skender was the flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Games, and Vedrana Malec has a very demanding performance in the ski marathon (30 km) on the last day of her third and final Games, the choice fell on the 17-year-old from Zagreb.
Tena Hadžić will join Marko Skender and Zrinka Ljutić and complete the story of Croatian Olympic debutants as flag bearers at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
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