Two U.S. skiers get top-20 finishes in sprints at World Cup Finals

Two U.S. skiers get top-20 finishes in sprints at World Cup Finals{mosimage}USSA — American World Cup rookie Andy Newell and teammate Torin Koos got their first look at the 2006 Olympic sprint course Friday and turned in top-20 results as snow moved in on the region.

Newell, who was 25th in Trondheim two weeks ago, finished 16th with Koos 18th and just out of finals in the freestyle sprints.

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen, the World Cup and sprint world champion, won her seventh straight sprint on the women’s 1.03km course, edging Canadian Beckie Scott in the women’s final. The men raced on a 1.35km loop and Italian Fredy Schwienbacher gave the couple of thousand fans gathered in a driving snowstorm for finals plenty to cheer about as he edged Jens Arne Svartedal of Norway in the men’s final.

“It was pretty good manmade snow for the prelim,” Newell said, “and as soon as the prelim was over, the weather really moved in. They’re calling for up to 40 centimeters [16 inches] by tomorrow.”

Newell, the SuperTour sprint champion, was the fourth man in his heat as it headed into a tough uphill. The leader broke away, he said, and the Stratton Mountain School graduate played catch-up from there to the finish. “When you’re the fourth guy, you’re at a loss when the lead guy takes off. I had to work hard to get back … we came in to the finish together.”

Koos, who graduated a year ago from the University of Utah, was 21st in the sprint around the Royal Palace in Stockholm February 18. “I needed a good result to finish the season,” he said. “These are the pre-Olympic races so I’m fired-up for two years down the road. It’s wide open and has good terrain … a couple of steep hills but nothing super hard.”

World Cup Finals continue Saturday with the women’s 15km freestyle before the men end the season with a 30km skate race Sunday

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