Norway wins relay, Bjoergen her fourth gold of 2011 Worlds
Sweden had to do without Maria Rydqvist, a last hour drop-out from it's women's cross country relay team, but one has to wonder if it would have really mattered. Norway took the event by more than 36 seconds with Marit Bjoergen having the leisure on her final ski to the finish to grab a Norwegian flag and wave it merrily to the 50,000 fans on Holmenkollen stadium.
It was the fourth gold medal of the 2011 Nordic World Championships for the 30 year old Bjoergen even after skipping the sprint team event, but the race was well in hand before she took to the tracks. Vibeke Skofterud, Therese Johaug and Kristin Stoermer Steira did much of the work.
Sweden strode home for the silver and Finland got bronze.
Skofterud was part of a four team breakaway on the first leg, with Sweden and Italy appearing to have the upper hand, but Italy's Antonella Confortolla Wyat skis had little glide as she took to the second leg and Finland's Aino Kaisa Saarinen and Johaug caught her and continued in pursuit of Sweden's Anna Haag. Johaug seemed to gain strength as Saainen lost hers, passed Haag and gave Stoermer Steira a lead of nine seconds at the exchange.
In the third leg Stoermer Steira took full control increasing the gap to 24 seconds and then to 34 at the exchange, leaving the only battle for second place. Charlotte Kalla earned the silver for Sweden by breaking away on the final uphill from the Finn Krista Lahteenmaki.
The U.S. team of Kikkan Randall, Holly Brooks, Elizabeth Stephen and Jessica Diggins finished ninth. Canada was 14th.
|SKOFTERUD Vibeke W.||13:58.8|
|STEIRA Kristin Stoermer||12:58.3|
|JOHANSSON NORGREN Britta||13:24.3|
|SAARINEN Aino Kaisa||14:03.6|
|CONFORTOLA WYATT Antonella||14:56.3|
|SACHENBACHER STEHLE Evi||13:23.5|
|9||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||USA||56:24.7|