Liberec, Czech Republic – The Norweigan duo of Ola Vigen Hattestad and Johan Kjoelstad took the gold in the men’s Team Sprint competition this morning, a day after finishing first and second in the individual sprint. Tobias Angerer and Axel Teichmann claimed silver for German in a photo finish with the Finnish team of Ville Nousiainen and Sami Jauhojaervi.
As is often the case in team sprint events, the lead pack remained tightly grouped throughout with nine of ten teams within 9 seconds of the lead heading into the last leg. Hattestad once again demonstrated his exceptional ability to finish at the front of such a pack.
“It was a really tough race,” said Hattestad. “In qualification I felt strong, but in the final I was a little bit tired. I tried to ski as fast as possible during the race and was tired on the last hill. But in the finish I felt strong, and even better after I crossed the line.”
Teichmann switched skis heading into the final lap, a move that paid off.
“I used different skis in the semi final and they were really good. I used them for two laps in the final, but they were slower, so I changed them for the third lap. The new skis turned out to be very good and Toby had a good position after his third lap and I used it. I knew I had a chance to pass maybe two guys in the finish.”
Added Angerer, “It was a very tough race. In sprint relay you have a lot of changes in position. It was a very hard race from beginning. The tempo was very fast. I thing we had the right position in the right moment. Axel’s finish was really great and we are very very happy with the medal. There was some pressure on the team the last few days, but it is gone and we can concentrate on relay and 50km.”
In the team sprint, the top three teams in each semifinal advance to the finals automatically. The next four fastest advance as lucky losers. Norway won the second semi, while Germany made it through as the first lucky loser. Finland won the first semifinal.
The US team of Kris Freeman and Torin Koos were in position to advance, holding the top spot entering the final lap. But Koos was unable to maintain the pace, and slipped off the back. Only one lucky loser came from this heat, and the US was left as the first team on the sidelines. They ended the day in 11th place.
The Canadian team of George Grey and Devon Kershaw fared better, advancing out of the semis as the final lucky loser. In the final they skied with the main pack, hanging between 6th and 9th place. On the last lap Kershaw was unable to maintain the pace, and brought the team home in 9th place, +9.7 seconds.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.