Johaug’s career has been marked by great ups and even bigger downs. Four years ago, she was not allowed to participate in the Olympics in South Korea.
At the cross-country stadium in Zhangjiakou, she was the supreme loner and in a class of her own.
– It’s an insanely big day, and this is what I have been missing in my career. It’s been a lot, it’s been a weird last week and a weird last year. I feel that I have been selfish and far away from family and friends and not least my boyfriend Nils Jacob, Johaug said as she struggled with tears.
Tears are not really her style, but this time even the 33-year-old from Dalsbygda had to give up.
Behind the tears were several layers of stories.
– It has been a strange last week with fear of not coming here and fear of being infected. I received a very sad message when I was about to board the plane in Zurich last Tuesday that a supporter who has been with me since 2007 had passed away. It is tough. Then it is extra big to cross the finish line and know that it was worth all the thousands of training hours.
The supporter is the sponsor and businessman Torbjørn Johannsson, known from Norgesgruppen.
– I know that Torbjørn had been incredibly proud of this gold and that he had treated me so deeply. I went for everyone today, including myself.
Johuag told about the special snow and the powerful wind. She had decided to hold on to the classic part of the skiathlon race. She was to insert the shock on the skating section.
One by one they had to give up. Not least the Swedes. Johaug was not against it.
– I had thought that at least Frida (Karlsson) would be on the podium. I benefit from having been in the game for a long time. Now I can lower my shoulders. I have reached my dream of an individual Olympic gold, but I am eager to go fast in the next races as well.
Maybe it was a bit of luck for Johaug that she got a few extra days at favorite place Seiser Alm.
– I feel that I have been in good shape and have been over a month in height. We have talked a bit about it, we girls, that it might be an advantage that we had to stay longer in Seiser Alm, instead of traveling here where it is sour and cold. It is perhaps a little early to say that one is fed up with sour wind already after being here for two days, the gold winner joked.
It is eight years since she went to her last Olympic race.
– Maybe that’s also what makes it so emotional, that I lost the last Olympics. It’s been eight years since I last joined, and I also knew this was the last chance. That makes it a little bigger.
In the minutes after the finish, she managed to call her cohabitant Nils Jakob Hoff.
– I faceted Nils Jakob, who then ran with my brother Karstein. Nils Jakob has a birthday today, but I could not congratulate him on the day, because I was a hundred myself.