Bjoergen edges Scott for overall World Cup title

Updated: March 19, 2006, 2:43 AM ET
Associated Press

SAPPORO, Japan -- Canada's Beckie Scott put the finishing touches on her impressive career Sunday by winning the final World Cup cross country event of the season.

Now she plans to celebrate with some sushi and a little partying in Sapporo.

Scott, who said before Sunday's race she will retire after this season, edged Norway's Kristen Steira in a women's 2x7.5-kilometer pursuit race, crossing the finish line with a time of 45 minutes, 35.0 seconds, 1.8 seconds ahead of Steira. Germany's Evi Sachenbacher Stehle was third with a time of 46:04.9.

In the men's 2x15km pursuit, Sweden's Mathias Fredriksson clocked a time of 1:16:45.4 to finish first, 3.8 seconds ahead of Norway's Petter Northug. Sweden's Anders Soedergren was third in 1:16:49.5.

The men's overall title has already been decided. Germany's Tobias Angerer, who finished 11th in Sunday's race, was the overall winner with 829 points.

"I'm ready for some sushi and then a party," Scott said after Sunday's win at the Shirahatayama course. "This is the way I wanted to finish. It was important for me to finish on top."

Scott barely missed out on winning the overall World Cup title in the final event of the season.

Norway's Marit Bjoergen finished fourth to hold on to the title. Only 66 points separated Scott and Bjoergen heading into Sunday's race and Scott needed to win the pursuit and for Bjoergen to finish no higher than eighth.

Defending champion Bjoergen finishes the season with 1,036 points. Scott was second with 1,020 points.

"I'm very happy with the victory, I was hoping to win today's race," Scott said. "But it's a bit sad to say goodbye. I would have liked the World title but I did all I could today and during the season."

Scott overtook Bjoergen midway through the first half of the 15-kilometer race then held off a determined Steira over the last three kilometers.

Steira passed Scott on the last lap but Scott made up ground on the final downhill and came into the stadium neck and neck with the Norwegian.

"I knew if I stayed close to Kristin that I would have a good chance," added Scott. "We went into the stadium very close and fortunately I had enough left for a final sprint."

Scott, who shared the silver medal with Sara Renner in the team sprint at the Turin Games, was a gold medalist in the 5km pursuit at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, a win she called the highlight of her career.

She originally finished third in Salt Lake City but was awarded the gold after the two athletes who finished ahead of her lost their medals for doping violations.

Scott, who competed in three Olympics for Canada, said she pretty much knew at the start of the season that this would be her final campaign.

"I pretty much knew at the start," said Scott. "Then as the season went on I became more certain. There is a lot of traveling involved and it's a bit of a tough life."

Scott won four World Cup titles this season, including two on home snow in Vernon, British Columbia, in December and then a week later in Canmore, Alberta.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press