A weekend of World Cup sprint racing wrapped up today in Dusseldorf, Germany
with the sprint relay.
The two-person sprint relay, which was recently
named as a medal event, starting at the 2005 World Championships, is a very
exciting format. The first teammate skis a short (~1 km) leg, then tags off
to his second teammate who does the same. The second teammate tags the first
and the process is repeated. The men skied six legs (three for each person)
of a 1.5K course, the women skied six legs of a 0.8 km loop.
Because the legs are so short, it is nearly impossible for anyone to create
a sustained break-away. This makes for a lot of action on a very short course.
The very short loop course (0.8 km) in Dusseldorf made it extra exciting
The women's race turned out to be a duel between Norway (Hilde G. Pedersen
and Marit Bjoergen) and host Germany (Biathlete Uschi Disl and Claudia Kuenzel).
Germany had a slight lead early, but Norway reeled them back in and Bjoergen
put the race away on the final leg to win by 4 seconds. Russia, who had Saturday's
second and third place finishers (Alena Sidko and Evgenia Hehina), had to settle
for third, 17 seconds back.
On the men's side, Sweden was without the services of yesterday's winner Peter
Larsson who was sick, but the team of Joergen Brink and Thobias Fredriksson
managed to take the win in a very tight field sprint. The top five teams were
within 4 seconds. Fredriksson, the World Sprint Champion, was able to lead the
charge to the line and take the victory. Germany (Axel Teichmann and Tobias
Angerer) was second, while Norway's second team (Tor Arne Hetland and Haavard
Bjerkeli) came in third.