Therese Johaug earned her second gold of Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

Norway’s Therese Johaug doubled her gold medal tally at the 2022 Winter Olympics here by beating Finland's Kerttu Niskanen by the narrowest of margins in the women’s 10 kilometre classic event at the Kuyangshu Nordic Center and Biathlon Centre.

Johaug was seeking to add to her 15km skiathlon gold in Zhangjiakou, but faced a head-to-head battle with Niskanen.

The Finnish skier started two minutes after Johaug and made strong inroads during the uphill sections of the course, which saw her lead the virtual standings.

Johaug was able to reduce the deficit in the latter stages of the race, with the 33-year-old completing the event in a time of 28min 6.3sec.

She was forced to watch as Niskanen came towards the finish.

Just 0.4 seconds separated the two skiers at the conclusion of the event, with Johaug winning gold and Niskanen securing the silver medal.

"It was the two most nervous minutes in my career when standing there and I know that it will be me and Kerttu fighting for this gold medal," said Johaug.

"When you're racing at this high altitude, you have to do the best with your energy the whole 10 kilometres.

"I tried to do the first lap not going so fast and tried to add more speed for the second lap.

"Of course, Kerttu had 11 seconds on me, but I feel from six kilometres that I have a lot of energy and I tried to go really fast at the last hill.

"Both of us went really fast today and you see that she took the 10 seconds in the beginning, but I took the 10 seconds in the end, so it was only 0.4 between us."

Finland's Kerttu Niskanen finished as the silver medallist ©Getty Images
Finland's Kerttu Niskanen finished as the silver medallist ©Getty Images

Johaug has now secured individual titles at two Winter Olympics, adding to her relay success at Vancouver 2010.

She also earned silver and bronze medals at Sochi 2014, but missed Pyeongchang 2018 after being banned for 18 months after testing positive for anabolic steroid clostebol while training in Italy in September 2016.

Johaug claimed to have absorbed the banned substance via lip balm wrongly given to her by a team doctor.

"I was out for two years and I know myself, and everybody who knows me, what happened in this case, so people can say what they want, but I don't care," Johaug said, post-race.

"I know who I am and what I'm doing.

"I have been out for two years and I'm training so hard, so much to be back and to fight for the medals here."

Niskanen has earned the third Olympic silver of her career, following team relay and sprint success at Sochi 2014.

Krista Parmakoski clinched bronze.

The Finnish skier joined compatriot Niskanen on the podium, finishing in 28:37.8.