Swedish delight as Kalla springs relay upset
Sweden's Charlotte Kalla competes to Gold in the Women's Cross-Country Skiing 4x5km Relay at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 15, 2014, in Rosa Khutor, near Sochi - by Kirill Kudryavtsev
Jubilant teammates leaped on Kalla when she crossed the line after pulling back a seemingly impossible deficit of more than 25 seconds following the last changeover.
Favourites Norway, who had won every single World Cup, world championships and Olympic women's relay they entered since November 2009, could finish only fifth, 53.6sec off the pace.
The Sochi Games are turning into a personal triumph for Kalla, who took silver in both the skiathlon and the 10km classic time trial, to follow her gold medal in the 10km freestyle time trial in Vancouver 2010.
She is so far the only athlete to have won three medals in Sochi.
Kalla overtook Krista Lahteenmaki of Finland and Denise Hermann of Germany -- who appeared to be heading for a one-on-one duel for gold -- with a fearsome sprint in the home straight.
Sweden finished on 53min 2.7sec, with Finland taking silver 0.5sec behind. Germany won bronze in a time of 53min 03.6sec.
Refusing to take the credit for a famous victory, Kalla modestly paid tribute to her three relay teammates Ida Ingemarsdotter, Emma Wiken and Anna Haag.
"Emma stayed in front of the whole group and Anna, she's the real fighter. I was so motivated when I got out on my lap," she said.
"I cannot believe we're Olympic champions."
Haag however made clear the debt owed by the team to their leader: "When we were waiting for Charlotte in the finish area I could barely believe it. It was crazy.
"Charlotte was skiing like a god."
It was the first time Sweden have won gold in the women's Olympic relay since the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley. The last time they even won a medal in the event was in 1968.
Kalla now has a total of five Winter Games medals. Only alpine skier Anja Paerson has won more for Sweden, with six.