Sweden, Norway win XC team sprints
DUSSELDORF, Germany — Sweden's men and Norway's women won the first cross-country team sprint of the new World Cup season on Sunday before a large and wildly cheering throng. No U.S. racers competed.
Olympic sprint champion Bjoern Lind and Peter Larsson took command late in the six-lap men's race, six times around a 1.5-kilometer course on machine-made snow along the Rhine River, and edged Norwegians Petter Northug and Tor Arne Hetland by 2.6 seconds. Marit Bjoergen, who won Saturday's women's sprint, and Ella Gjomle edged Sweden's Britta Norgren and Lina Andersson for the women's 6x800-meter victory before tens of thousands of enthusiastic spectators.
U.S. sprint coach Chris Grover said no Americans raced as they look to recover from colds. Andy Newell was eighth Saturday in the men's 1.5 km sprint — his third consecutive top-10 World Cup finish, the best string by a U.S. racer since Bill Koch in 1983 — but, along with teammates Torin Koos and Chris Cook, has been fighting sickness before the Americans' first time in the season-opening sprints.
"This has been a good learning lesson for us, and Andy had a great result, but now we want to get the guys 100 percent healthy for the rest of the season," Grover said.
The three will be joined by Olympic teammate Andrew Johnson in Ramsau, Austria, this week for a mini-camp before heading to Sweden for the resumption of the World Cup schedule Nov. 18-19 in Gallivare.