Krista Parmakowski of Finland was third and Jessica Diggins finished fifth, missing a chance to become the first American woman to earn a medal in cross-country skiing.
Kalla made her break midway through the last of the four laps, leaving Bjoergen to battle Parmakoski and Swede Ebba Andersson for the podium places. A skiathlon silver medallist behind Bjørgen four years ago, the 30-year-old Kalla now has six Olympic medals to her name, also a national women's cross-country skiing record. The Minnesotan crossed the finish line and sprawled to the cold, hard ground with both cramps and a bolstered sense of hope at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre on a cold Korean Saturday afternoon. I am happy with that. Most of all, though, it was pure joy.
Bjoergen took the 11th Olympic medal by finishing second in 40:52.7.
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"Being seconds out of a medal is so exciting because I know it's possible".
But 37-year-old Norwegian Bjoergen, known as the "Iron Lady", had as much reason to celebrate, as her silver gave her a record 11 Olympics cross country medals in the event.
Two-time defending champion Bjørgen was aiming to become the first cross-country skier, male or female, to win three Olympic gold medals in one individual event and the first woman to collect seven Olympic gold medals in cross-country skiing.
"I tried my best today, so I am satisfied with this result".
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