Thu, Feb 26, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Hattestad and Follis win sprint events

AP , LIBEREC, CZECH REPUBLIC

Arianna Follis of Italy celebrates on the finish line after winning the ladies sprint free final cross country race at the FIS Nordic Skiing World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Ola Vigen Hattestad lived up to expectations on Tuesday by winning the men’s sprint at the Nordic skiing world championships, and Arianna Follis of Italy surged ahead late to take the women’s event.

Hattestad continued his domination of the sprint events this season, leading for much of the race and comfortably holding off Norwegian teammate Johan Kjoelstad in the sprint to the finish.

Hattestad won in 3 minutes, 0.8 seconds on the 1.6km course to beat Kjoelstad by 0.4 seconds. Nikolay Morilov of Russia took bronze.

Hattestad has won four of the five World Cup sprints he has entered this season, but said he didn’t take anything for granted before race.

“This morning, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so nervous,” he said. “I must say I the felt the pressure a bit today.”

It was Hattestad’s first world title, after being dropped from the team in Sapporo, Japan, two years ago.

“I wanted revenge today,” Hattestad said. “I prepared for this sprint by listening to music from Sapporo to bring back some of the memories from that time.”

It was Kjoelstad’s first medal at a major championships as well, after becoming junior world champion in 2003.

In the women’s event, Follis pushed ahead of Kikkan Randall of the US in the last turn and pulled away on the home straight to finish the 1.3km race in 2:39.3.

It was Follis’ first world title after taking bronze in the 10km freestyle race in Sapporo in 2007.

“Today is incredible for me,” she said. “I think this evening with the Italian team we’re having a party.”

Randall just held off Pirjo Muranen of Finland in a photo finish and became the first US woman to win a world or Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. Randall was 0.6 seconds behind Follis for silver, with Muranen third.

“To take the first ever medal for the Americans is amazing,” Randall said.

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