Austria wins Nordic worlds; U.S. 4th

Updated: February 28, 2011, 5:41 PM ET
Associated Press

OSLO, Norway -- Marit Bjoergen of Norway captured her third gold medal at the Nordic world championships Monday before thousands of flag-waving fans, and the U.S. men finished fourth in the combined team event won by Austria.

The American team featured Olympic champion Billy Demong and two-time world champion Todd Lodwick and was 54.8 seconds behind the winners. The U.S. was second fastest in the relay but was unable to make up a 1:08 deficit after the ski jump.

Austria was led by Mario Stecher, who beat Tino Edelmann of Germany in a sprint finish. The Austrians started the cross-country relay in fourth place but won in 48 minutes, 7.8 seconds. Germany trailed by 0.4 seconds. Norway was third, 40.6 seconds back.

Bjoergen won the 10-kilometer race in 27 minutes, 39.3 seconds. She is unbeaten in a distance race since the Vancouver Olympics.

Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland, a two-time world champion, led for most of the race but was overtaken in the closing stages and finished 4.1 seconds behind. Aino Kaisa Saarinen of Finland was third, 9.7 seconds back.

Bjoergen fell to the snow in exhaustion after a stirring comeback in the cross-country race. The triple Olympic champion set out 30 seconds ahead of her closest rival in a staggered start and didn't know at first whether she had won.

"I just lay there looking up at the TV screen and waiting for Kowalczyk," Bjoergen said. "Then I heard: 'The gold will go to Marit Bjoergen' and was very happy."

The Holmenkollen church bells rang in celebration as Bjoergen pulled on her specially designed puffy gold jacket for the third time.

Bjoergen's two previous wins came in the sprint and 15K pursuit. She is the first Norwegian to win three individual gold medals at a world championships.

Norway leads the medal standings after five days with four gold medals, two silver and two bronze. Austria also has four golds, as well as one silver and one bronze. Germany and Sweden have a gold each, but the Germans have five medals total to Sweden's two.

Tuesday's competition features the men's 15K cross-country classical race. The championships end March 6.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press