World champs take individual sprints at Lahti; Russia, Norway win team races

World champs take individual sprints at Lahti; Russia, Norway win team races{mosimage}USSA — Sprint world champions Marit Bjoergen of Norway and Sweden’s Thobias Fredriksson won World Cup 1K freestyle sprints Friday as the Finnish Ski Games opened. The top U.S. result came from Andy Newell, who was 31st.

In the team sprint race on Saturday, Nikolai Pankratov and Vassili Rotchev of Russia edged Sweden-1 by a half second to win the men’s event (six laps, three for each skier, over a 1km loop), while Norway’s Ella Gjoemle and Hilde G. Pedersen beat Finland-1 by 1.5 seconds in the women’s relay. No Americans raced.

Friday’s win in the individual sprint was the sixth straight sprint victory for Bjoergen, who already had clinched the World Cup sprint crown. World Cup leader Gabriella Paruzzi of Italy finished second to limit Bjoergen’s attack on her lead; with three races left, Paruzzi is 49 points ahead of the Norwegian. Third place Friday went to Sweden’s Anna Dahlberg with Canadian Beckie Scott fourth. Rebecca Dussault (Gunnison, CO) was 47th.

In the men’s race, Fredriksson led Swedes into the top three spots. With three races remaining, and a victory worth 100 points, German Rene Sommerfeldt is 240 points ahead of defending World Cup champion Mathias Fredriksson of Sweden.

The Finnish Ski Games conclude Sunday with classic races for men (15km) and women (10km).

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