Bjorgen wins cross-country World Cup title

Bjorgen wins cross-country World Cup title{mosimage}LAHTI, Finland – Marit Bjorgen of Norway won the women’s cross country skiing World Cup without competing Sunday while Julia Tchepalova of Russia and Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic captured freestyle races.

Bjorgen was ill but with 1,020 points cannot be overtaken with four races left. Kristina Smigun of Estonia is second at 599 points after placing seventh Sunday, and third-place Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic has 591 points.

Bjorgen took three individual medals at the world championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, in February. She was the World Cup runner-up last year behind Italy’s Gabriela Paruzzi.

This season, Bjorgen has benefited from the sprint events in which Smigun and Neumannova have competed just once. Bjorgen has 480 points from the sprints and has won four of five. Like Bjorgen, the men’s World Cup leader, Axel Teichmann of Germany, did not compete in Lahti because of illness.

Vincent Vittoz of France moved past Norway’s Tor Arne Hetland into second place overall. Teichmann has 548 points and Vittoz 466, with Hetland in third at 436.

Bauer led the men’s 15K from the start and was not challenged, finishing in 36 minutes, 6.2 seconds. He beat Austria’s Christian Hoffmann by 12.1 seconds and Italy’s Thomas Moriggl by 21.5.

Tchepalova recorded her first World Cup victory of the season and 16th of her career. She battled Neumannova throughout the 10K and finished in 26:13.8 — 3.3 seconds faster than the Czech. Karine Philippot of France was third in 26:40.6 for her first top-three finish in the World Cup.

-The Associated Press

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