Rotchev upsets Hetland in Nordic worlds; Sara Renner third for Canada

Rotchev upsets Hetland in Nordic worlds; Sara Renner third for Canada{mosimage}OBERSTDORF, Germany – Russia’s Vassili Rotchev stunned Norwegian Tor Arne Hetland at the Nordic Skiing World Championships on Tuesday, holding off the Olympic champion on the final hill to win the cross-country sprint gold.

Sara Renner of Canada won Canada’s first-ever world championship medal in Nordic skiing.

The women’s sprint produced an even bigger surprise when Sweden’s Emelie Oehrstig won, reaching the podium for the first time in her career.

Rotchev, rated one of Russia’s biggest hopes for the future, finished the 1.2-kilometer men’s race in 2 minutes, 32.1 seconds, edging Hetland by 0.02 seconds. Sweden’s Thobias Fredriksson, the defending champion, was third in 2:39.

Hetland, considered the world’s best, passed Rotchev on the final hill, but could not open up a lead and was beaten at the finish line.

“I’m very happy because the Russians haven’t been on the podium since Salt Lake City,” Rotchev said.

Oehrstig, whose previous best World Cup performance was finishing fourth in December, covered the 0.9-kilometer course in 2:15.5, with countrywoman Lina Andersson second in 2:16.8. Sara Renner took bronze for her first medal at a major competition.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Oehrstig said of her first world title. “I tried to think of it as a team competition and do it like it was back home.”

Favorite Marit Bjorgen of Norway didn’t qualify for the final. A dominant skier on the World Cup circuit, she was 17th – with 16 reaching the final heats – after losing just one sprint race in the last 17 months before the worlds.

-The Associated Press

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