Norway won both the men's 4x10km and women's 4x5km relays in Falun, Sweden.
In the women's event, Norway and Finland skied away from the rest of the field early on, creating a gap of more than 14 seconds by the end of the first leg. The teams were evenly matched until the final 5km loop, when Finland's Riikka Sarasoja was unable to match the pace of Norway's Marit Bjoergen. Bjoergen brought the Norweigan squad in a comfortable 30 seconds ahead of the second place Finns. Germany took third 55 seconds behind.
The stadium in Falun (Photo Credit : Johan Ericsson)
Sara Renner skied a strong first leg, putting Canada in fourth, only 14 seconds off the leaders. Renner entered the stadium with Swiss skier Seraina Mischol, a full 20 seconds ahead of the fifth place team. Chandra Crawford took over, and while she was unable to hold position, the sprint specialist had an excellent result in posting the 7th fastest split for her leg. Canada finished 10th, three minutes behind the winner.
Canada's Madeleine Williams on the third leg (Photo Credit : Johan Ericsson)
The men's race saw four teams break from the pack and battle down to the wire. Norway 2, anchored by Peter Northug, came out on top, edging Norway 1, the Czech Republic, and Germany in the final sprint. Northug, who has struggled for much of the season, showed he still has what it takes. Both the Czechs and Germans made several attacks during the last lap – especially on the â€˜MÃ¶rdarbacken’ (Killer Hill) – but they couldn’t split the group before the finish straight. Czech star and overall World Cup leader Lukas Bauer skied his team to a 20 second lead after the second leg. But his teammates quickly gave the lead back, and the Czechs had to settle for third.
Kris Freeman led the US team out of the start. Freeman was unable to stay with the lead pack, handing off to Andy Newell 25 seconds back. Newell skied in a pack with the Russians and Italians, among others, staying within 30 seconds off the lead group for the first 5km of his leg. But the US sprint star was unable to maintain the pace and dropped a minute and a half over the remaining 5km. Leif Zimmermann took over for the first skate leg holding the US in 12th place. Garrott Kuzzy skied a strong final leg, posting the 9th fastest time for the anchors while overtaking the Canadian team.
Andy Newell (USA) (Photo Credit : Johan Ericsson)
“One of the highlights for us was that Garrott had the ninth fastest time for his leg and that he was able to catch the Canadians who started about a minute before us,” Grover said. “He passed them and he was able to have a really good day after having a hard time in the 30K yesterday.”
Course conditions were a challenge for the athletes due to the spring conditions.
“It's a really low snow situation here and it is very warm today. So, they were kind of limited on the courses they could use,” Grover said. “The course wasn't marked super well and the Finns on the women's side took a wrong turn that led them off course. No one was disqualified because of the poor markings.”
Devon Kershaw (CAN) leads the pack on the first leg. Kris Freeman (USA) is bib 10 (Photo Credit Johan Ericsson)