Bauer and Steira win double pursuits on 2006 Olympic course

Bauer and Steira win double pursuits on 2006 Olympic course{mosimage}PRAGELATO, Italy – Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic and Kristin Steira of Norway recorded their first World Cup victories of the season Saturday, capturing double pursuit cross-country events at a venue that will be used for the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Bauer edged Sweden’s Mathias Fredriksson by 0.4 seconds in a 30-kilometer race, finishing in 1 hour, 22 minutes, 57.9 seconds, skiing the first half classical style and the second freestyle. The competition includes a mid-race stop to change skis. Norway’s Kristen Skjeldal was third, 5.7 seconds back.

Germany’s Axel Teichmann retained the overall lead with 548 points by finishing 11th, 1:24 behind the winner. France’s Vincent Vittoz held second place with 434 points.

Steira took the women’s 15K double pursuit, finishing in 42 minutes, 56.5 seconds and beating favored Czech skier Katerina Neumannova by 1.3 seconds. Germany’s Claudia Kuenzel placed third ahead of Italy’s Gabriella Paruzzi.

Overall leader Marit Bjoergen of Norway, who does not start in all events and has seven wins this season, stayed comfortably in first place with 890 points. Estonia’s Kristina Smigun, who did not start Saturday, was in second place with 518.

Cross-country races during the weekend in this resort serve as test events for the tracks that will host the Winter Games.

-The Associated Press

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