VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (Feb. 26) — Sweden's Thobias Fredriksson and Marit Bjoergen of Norway captured the 1.5-km freestyle sprint titles Wednesday night at the 2003 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships as Norway picked up four more cross country medals. No American qualified for the finals (top 16) during the afternoon qualifying round, which was run in 50-degree heat at Lago di Tesero. Andrew Newell finished 31st, Torin Koos 32nd, Carl Swenson 38th, Lars Flora 44th. Canadians Gordon Jewett, Drew Goldsack, Devon Kershaw, and Dan Roycroft were bunched together in 49,50, 51, and 53 respectively.
NBC will broadcast Worlds highlights for two hours Sunday, 1-3 p.m. EST.
Just when it looked like Haavard Bjerkeli was in charge heading into the final sprint, Fredriksson, brother of World Cup leader Mathias Fredriksson, rocketed past the Norwegian's right and barely was challenged. Bjerkeli took silver with defending world and Olympic sprint champ Tor Arne Hetland collecting the bronze. Germany's Tobias Angerer was fourth.
In the women's race, Bjoergen led all the way and cruised to the gold with Claudia Kuenzel of Germany runnerup and Hilde G. Pedersen, another Norwegian, third. Beckie Scott of Canada was mouse-trapped on an uphill and finished fourth. Beckie had finishe second in the afternoon qualifying heat.
Sara Renner advanced to the same semi final as Beckie, but finished third in the semifinal. She also finished third in the B Final to take 7th overall. For Americans, Kikkan Randall was 39th, Wendy Wagner 42nd, Aubrey Smith 44th, Aelin Peterson 46th.
To see heat results, go to the <Live Results page.
We hope to have a first hand account from John Aalberg or Andy Newell very soon.
Information taken from US Ski Team press release and Official Results