By MARTHA BELLISLE
ZHANGJIAKOU, China (AP) — Russian athlete Alexander Bolshunov pulled away from the pack early and won the first men’s cross-country skiing gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in the 30-kilometer skiathlon. Bolshunov grabbed a Russian Olympic Committee flag in the final stretch and waved it in the air as he crossed the finish line. Bolshunov and Iivo Niskanen of Finland led the race through the first four classic ski laps but Russian athlete Denis Spitsov passed Niskanen once they were on the freestyle legs. Spitsov stayed out front and secured the silver. Niskanen held on for the bronze.