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Sapporo XC: Scott wins final race, just misses overall title to Bjoergen

Sapporo XC: Scott wins final race, just misses overall title to Bjoergen{mosimage}SAPPORO, Japan – Mathias Fredriksson of Sweden beat Norwegian Petter Northug by 3.8 seconds Sunday in the men’s 30-kilometer pursuit while American Andrew Johnson was 47th as the World Cup season concluded.

Earlier, Canadian Beckie Scott — bidding to become the first North American woman to win the World Cup’s cross-country overall title — captured her fourth victory of the season as she won the women’s 15 km pursuit in 45 minutes, 35 seconds, by 1.8 seconds over Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway.

However, Norway’s Marit Bjoergen finished fourth (46:17.3) to preserve her lead; after 24 races, Bjoergen finished with 1,036 points to Scott’s 1,020.

Fredriksson’s winning time was 1:16.45.4 in the spring-like conditions with temperatures in the low 40s. Germany’s Tobias Angerer finished 11th but already had clinched the men’s overall title; he competed in only two of the final seven races after the Olympics and finished with 829 points with Jens Arne Svartedal in second place at 577.

”I’m ready for some sushi and then a party,” Scott said. ”This is the way I wanted to finish. It was important for me to finish on top.”

The victory marks not only the fourth World Cup gold medal of the season for the Vermilion, Alta. native, but also in her 11-year career. It is also the 10th time the Olympic gold and silver medalist stepped onto the World Cup podium this season.

Scott needed to win the pursuit and have Bjoergen finish no higher than eighth to claim the overall. “I’m very happy with the victory, I was hoping to win it all race,” Scott said. ”I would have liked the World [Cup] title but I did all I could today and during the season. It was a dream year.”

Scott overtook Bjoergen midway through the first half of the 15-kilometer race then held off a determined Steira Stoermer over the last three kilometers. Steira Stoermer passed Scott on the last lap, but Scott made up ground on the final downhill and came into the stadium neck and neck with the Norwegian.

”I knew if I stayed close to Kristin that I would have a good chance,” Scott said. ”We went into the stadium very close and fortunately I had enough left for a final sprint.”

Recognized by many around the world as a strong short-distance skier, Scott’s remarkable season proved she is a force to reckon with in all World Cup distances. To go along with her four gold medals, the Canadian also racked up five silvers and one bronze in nearly every discipline on the World Cup circuit this year, which brought her to races in Canada, Europe, Scandinavia and Asia. While Scott also claimed numerous top-10 finishes, one of her season highlights came last month when she joined forces with longtime World Cup comrade Sara Renner to claim a silver medal in the team sprint at the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

– USSA/Cross Country Canada

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