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Oberstdorf X-C: Canada's Scott wins women's pursuit in Germany

Oberstdorf X-C: Canada’s Scott wins women’s pursuit in Germany{mosimage}OBERSTDORF, Germany – Canada’s Beckie Scott completed the hat trick, winning her third World Cup gold medal of the season, and her career, in the women’s 15-kilometer pursuit race in Oberstdorf, Germany, on Saturday.

It was the first World Cup victory on European snow for the Vermilion, Alta. native. Scott led for most of the race and skied away from the pack in the pursuit to solidify her position back on top of the podium after stopping the clock at 39 minutes 44.3 seconds.

The pursuit race combines 7.5 km of skate skiing with an additional 7.5 km of classic technique. Athletes enter a transition area midway through the race to change equipment.

“I really thought it could go either way today because I was pretty tired and drained out, still getting over the jet lag, and wasn’t sure what I was capable of doing,” said Scott, who was fourth in the pursuit at the World Championships on the Oberstdorf track. “I was really looking forward to this race and I really like this course. I knew I had great skis and when I hit the start line I just told myself to go for it.”

Scott, who finished 6.7 seconds ahead of Germany’s Claudia Kuenzel (39:51.0), admitted it was important to get a good race under her belt in Europe.

“I think everything in Canada was rolling for us so well that we almost couldn’t fail,” said Scott, who fell from first to fifth position in the race after a poor transition zone on Saturday. “It is a different scene in Europe and there were many of the top women in this race that didn’t compete in Canada, so it was good to get a race against many of the women that I haven’t seen this year.”

Katerina Neumannova, of the Czech Republic, was third (39:59.8).

Scott, who won Olympic gold in the women’s pursuit at the 2002 Games, is poised to be a favorite in the discipline again when the world gathers in Torino, Italy, in just three weeks. The Olympic champion also won a silver medal in the women’s pursuit last month in Vernon, B.C.

“It would be nice to just keep on winning heading toward the Games,” laughed Scott. “I’m looking forward to the sprint races on Sunday, and then we get into a week of some pretty high-intensity training before the Olympics. We are feeling good and looking forward to the final few weeks.”

The victory brings Scott’s medal total to six in as many events on this season’s World Cup schedule. The Canadian skied her way onto the podium five times during World Cup stops in Canada, including two gold and three silver-medal finishes. Saturday’s victory brings her career World Cup medal total to 11.

Sara Renner of Canmore, Alta., was the only other Canadian woman in the field. The 29-year-old Canuck, who is also having a breakthrough season on the World Cup, finished in 16th spot at 41:50.5.

Tobias Angerer elated the hometown German crowd with his second straight men’s pursuit victory. Angerer, finished with a time of 1:14:09.7, edging Sweden’s Anders Soedergren (1:14:10.1) for top spot on the podium. Germany’s Rene Sommerfeldt was third (1:14:34.9).

The World Cup continues Sunday in Germany with the men’s and women’s sprint races.

Americans Carl Swenson and Kris Freeman finished 41st and 42nd, respectively, in the men’s race.

Marit Bjorgen of Norway did not enter the women’s race, but retained her lead in the World Cup standings with 645 points to Russia’s Julia Tchepalova at 580.

Angerer is comfortably ahead of Tor Arne Hetland in the men’s standings. He has 685 points to the Norwegian’s 455.

”He has to belong now to the Olympic favorites, but we are glad to be in that position,” Germany coach Jochen Behle said of Angerer.

– Cross-Country Canada/The Associated Press

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