Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Nordic Skiing - Last Sprints

Wednesday's men's and women's 1km sprints at Göteborg, Sweden, turned out almost identically: Norway won each race and Finland took second. On the men's side, Trond Iversen won his quarter-final and semi-final heats to advance into and then win the final, storming the kilometer-long course at 32 kph (20 mph) to finish in 1:52.8 - less than a second ahead of Keijo Kurttila and slightly more on Ola Vigen Hattestad in third. Tor Arne Hetland, second in the overall World Cup race, made the final and, had he won, would have moved into first over idle Axel Teichmann. But Hetland fell after his skis tangled with Kurttila's, and finished in fourth, failing to earn enough points to overtake Teichmann. Hetland, a sprint specialist and the sprint champion of the WC, is unlikely to compete and earn points in the weekend's races at Falun, Sweden.

On the women's side, Marit Bjorgen dominated once again. Like Iversen, she swept all three of her races, including the final, which she finished in 2:04.3, well ahead of Finns Aino Kaisa Saarinen and Virpi Kuitunen (who, like Bjorgen, possesses both sprinting and distance skills, and may well compete at a very high level in the 2005-06 World Cup). Tearing over the course at 29kph (18 mph), Bjorgen only lengthened her already-unsurpassable lead in the overall World Cup.


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