Norwegians Win World Cup Classic Races

FasterSkierDecember 14, 2002

FasterSkier ed. note: North Americans Sara Renner and Milaine Theriault
were 39th and 37th. Beckie Scott (sickness) and Justin Wadsworth did not

A Return to Form for Norwegian Men

Today's 30 classic for men in Cogne gave Norway a much longed for triumph.
Frode Estil won the race, two centimetres ahead of teammate Anders Aukland.

The participants in today's mass start for men woke up to sunshine and
excellent conditions in the tiny Italian village. Eager to restore their
reputation, the Norwegian entrants took the initiative from the start
– led by Thomas Alsgaard and Anders Aukland.
The lead changed hands many times during the race, but it took time before
anyone tried to break away from the pack. Around the 20 km mark, a group
of five skiers opened up a gap to the remaining pack. This group consisted
of Anders Aukland, Frode Estil, Slovakia's Ivan Batory, and Matthias Fredriksson
and Anders Södergren from Sweden.
1.4 km later, Batory showed signs of weakness in the brutally steep hill
that the skiers had to climb four times, and though he managed to catch
the lead group shortly afterwards, he dropped off the pace again to finish
fifth in the race.
The last five kilometres turned out to be a contest between Norway and
Sweden. Anders Aukland and Frode Estil pushed the pace, and only Fredriksson
was able to stay in contention. The two Norwegians entered the finishing
straight first, and Fredriksson had to settle for third place. It came
down to a photo finish in which Estil's toe proved to be two centimetres
longer than Aukland's
Fredriksson finished only 0.7 seconds behind the two Norwegians, with
today's pleasent surprise, Anders Södergren fourth.
Other Norwegian entrants also had a good day.Kristen Skjeldal achieved
his best result so far this year in 9th, followed by Tore Bjoneviken in
Thomas Alsgaard received one World Cup point by finishing 30th. He lost
contact with the leaders early in the race, and struggled hard up the hills. Sweden's Per Elofsson has a long way to go before he has recaptured
his form of last year, and finished 24th. Tor Arne Hetland and Russia's
Vassili Rotchev did not compete in Cogne.
Matthias Fredriksson now leads the overall World Cup standings.
30K Free Mass Start Results

Another Skari Demonstration.
The heavy favourite in today's 15 km classic mass start for women, Bente
Skari, lived up to expectations. In a very convincing manner, Skari secured
her 31st WC victory, 28.3 seconds ahead of Estonia's Kristina Smigun.

At the sound of the start gun, Skari and Slovenia's Petra Majdic bolted
to the front, closely followed by Anita Moen and Smigun. The latter took
the lead around the 5 km mark,and together she and Skari opened a gap
to the rest of the pack. More and more skiers fell off the pace, but Moen,
Gabriella Paruzz, and sprinter Marit Bjørgen were all within 10
seconds behind the leaders. With five kilometres to go, the Norwegian
picked up the pace and the race was over. At the finish, Skari has nearly
half a minute to spare over her closest pursuer.
Norwegian skiers had a very good day in Cogne. Anita Moen outsprinted
Italy's Gabriella Paruzzi to secure the third spot on the podium, whereas
Marit Bjørgen and Marit Roaldset finished fifth and sixth respectively.
In addition to this, veteran Hilde G. Pedersen came seventh, and Tina
Bay 8th (picture).
Bjørgen and Roaldset's performances were especially heartwarming
for Norwegian fans.
After today's mass start, Smigun leads the overall World Cup standings
22 points ahead of Bente Skari.
15K Classic Mass Start Results


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