Axel Teichman and Marit Bjorgen win classical World Cups in Gallivare

Axel Teichman and Marit Bjorgen win classical World Cups in Gallivare{mosimage}Germany’s Axel Teichman and Norway’s Marit Bjorgen won season openers Saturday in World Cup cross-country races north of the Arctic Circle. Teichman captured the 15-kilometer classical event, winning by 37 seconds. Jorgen beat Estonia’s Kristina Smigun by 1.1 seconds in the women’s 10K classical.

The top American in the men’s race was the U.S. Ski Team’s Kris Freeman, who finished 27th. Wendy Wagner of Park City, Utah, was the lone U.S. racer; she finished 64th.

Teichman’s goatee was covered in ice when he crossed the line on a day when temperatures were about five degrees at this site more than 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. This weekend’s races were moved to Gallivare because of lack of snow in Ostersund.

“I didn’t shave because of the cold,” Teichman said. “Others wore masks. I wore a beard and it worked well for me.” Germany’s Rene Sommerfeldt finished second and Russia’s Vassili Rotchev was third.

Jorgen trailed Smigun by 0.2 seconds after 6.2 kilometers, but the sprint specialist finished strongly to win her first distance race on the World Cup circuit. Virpi Kuitunen of Finland was third, just ahead of 40-year-old Hilde Pedersen of Norway. “The tears are coming, this is big,” Jorgen said.

“It’s not the result we were hoping for,” said U.S. head coach Trond Nystad. “But you take the good with the bad, bad with the good, and now we have to keep after it. We’re racing again and everyone’s healthy. If Kris had been 10 seconds faster, he could have been top 20…but that didn’t happen. This was where he started last season [28th in a 15K freestyle in Beitostolen, Norway], and Kris will pick it up.

“It was plenty cold but we had good skis, good wax, just not a good result…but we know the talent is there and we’ll ski faster.” -From The Associated Press and USST news services

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