Magnus Kim, left, triumphed in a closely fought men's final ©Getty Images

Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games champion Magnus Kim secured a cross-country sprint gold medal on the first day of competition at the 2017 Asian Winter Games here.

His two gold medals at Lillehammer 2016 marked the first time a South Korean had won a medal in the discipline at an Olympic event.

It made him one of the most prominent upcoming South Korean athletes before the country's home Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, reflected by him receiving the newly unveiled Olympic Torch at the one-year to go celebrations earlier this month.

Kim, whose father is Norwegian, continued his progress towards the Games by producing a fine series of performances in the sprint discipline here.

He began by achieving the fastest qualifying time, before winning both his quarter and semi-final races.

His hopes of overall victory appeared in doubt when he was overtaken by China’s Sun Qinghai on an uphill section of the 1.4 kilometre course.

The South Korean hauled in his rival in the downhill, before beating Sun in a sprint to the line, with both men eventually given the same time of 3min 11.40sec.

Japan’s Nobuhito Kashiwabara finished five seconds adrift in third to win the bronze medal. 

China's Man Dandan was a comfortable winner in the women's cross-country event ©Getty Images
China's Man Dandan was a comfortable winner in the women's cross-country event ©Getty Images

While there was a close fought tussle in the men’s competition, China’s Man Dandan stormed to victory in the women’s.

Man, a two-time Winter Olympian, secured silver and bronze medals at the 2011 Asian Games in Almaty. 

She headed into the home straight here with a clear advantage over her fellow finalists, allowing her to start celebrating early.

Man won the event in a time of 3:48.29, with Kazakhstan's Yelena Kolomina securing the silver after ending 5.06 seconds adrift.

Australia's Casey Wright was third across the line but, with her country competing at the Games as a guest, she was unable to receive a medal.

The bronze went instead to South Korea's Ju Hye-ri, the fourth place athlete in the competition.