France's Vincent Vittoz wins 15km freestyle World Cup in Kuusamo

France’s Vincent Vittoz wins 15km freestyle World Cup in Kuusamo{mosimage}Vincent Vittoz of France won a 15-kilometer cross-country ski race Saturday, edging overall leader Axel Teichmann of Germany by 1.8 seconds for his second World Cup victory.

Vittoz finished in 35 minutes, 26.9 seconds. Two years ago, the freestyle specialist won a 10K in Sweden to become the first French winner of a World Cup. “This was a nice message,” Vittoz said.

Teichmann remained first in the standings. After three of 20 races, he has 183 points, 53 more than German runner-up Rene Sommerfeldt. Sommerfeldt, the defending overall champion, was fourth.

“I’m off to a dream start,” Teichmann said. “I can’t be disappointed today.”

Italy’s Giorgio di Centa finished third, 18.6 off Vittoz’s pace. The top American was Carl Swenson in 29th place.

Nordic ski powers Norway and Sweden failed to finish among the top eight. The top Norwegian was Tore Ruud Hofstad in ninth, followed by Ole Einar Bjorndalen, the biathlon great who sometimes competes in freestyle on the cross-country circuit. Sweden’s Mathias Fredriksson, the 2003 overall champion, was 11th. -The Associated Press

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