Northug gets revenge, gold for Norway

By Mattias Karen
Associated Press / February 23, 2010

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WHISTLER, British Columbia - Petter Northug finally got to do what he does best, and it ended the way it always does.

After getting in position to use his vaunted closing sprint for the first time at the Vancouver Olympics, Northug blew right past Germany’s Axel Teichmann to give Norway the gold medal in the men’s cross-country team sprint yesterday. Teichmann secured the silver medal for Germany, while Russia took bronze.

After being done in by a broken pole in the 30K pursuit and bad skis on the 15K freestyle, there was nothing standing in Northug’s way this time.

“I hoped to get my revenge,’’ Northug said. “When I had the spot I had on the last leg, it was up to me again. And here we are.’’

The freestyle event features a two-man relay, where each skier takes turns going three laps around a 1.6-kilometer course. The Norwegians finished in 19 minutes 1 second to beat the German duo of Teichmann and Tim Tscharnke by 1.3 seconds. The Russian team of Nikolay Morilov and Alexey Petukhov was 0.2 seconds behind them in third.

Northug had to do the heavy lifting for Norway throughout the race as partner Oeystein Pettersen struggled to keep up with his rivals.

The US team of Andrew Newell of Shaftsbury, Vt., and Torin Koos made the final and finished ninth.

For a couple of veterans who supposedly are past their prime, Germany’s Claudia Nystad and Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle sure have a lot of spring in their step.

The 32-year-old Nystad pulled away from 23-year-old Anna Haag of Sweden shortly before the finish to give Germany the gold medal in the team sprint.

Nystad long has been considered one of the best sprinters on the women’s circuit, and she went past Haag as they entered the ski stadium for the final time.

The German duo finished their turns around the 1.4-kilometer course in 18:03.7. Sweden was 0.6 seconds behind in second and Russia took third.

The American duo of Kikkan Randall and Caitlin Compton made the final and finished sixth after Randall beat Canada’s Sara Renner in a photo finish.