Germany wins cross country team sprint

Updated: March 18, 2006, 3:06 AM ET
Associated Press

SAPPORO, Japan -- Olympic silver medalist Claudia Kuenzel led Germany to victory Saturday in a World Cup cross country team sprint race.

Kuenzel and teammate Evi Sachenbacher Stehle had a winning time of 14 minutes, 11.5 seconds in the six-kilometer race on the Shirahatayama course.

Ritta Liisa Lassila and Pirjo Manninen of Finland finished second, 14.4 seconds back. Britta Norgren and Anna Karin Stroemstedt of Sweden were third.

Kuenzel opened up a commanding lead on the final lap of the race and raised both arms in celebration as she crossed the finish line.

Sunday's 7.5-kilometer pursuit race at the same venue is the last cross country World Cup event of the season.

Overall leader Marit Bjoergen of Norway heads into the race with a 46-point lead over Canada's Beckie Scott. Neither athlete took part in Saturday's team event.

In the men's team sprint, Cristian Zorzi and Loris Frasnelli of Italy edged Norway's Johan Kjoelstad and Eldar Roenning in a photo finish.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press