Pasini, Follis win World Cup freestyle sprint races

Updated: January 21, 2007, 10:25 AM ET
Associated Press

DEMINO, Russia -- Italy's Renato Pasini and Arianna Follis won freestyle sprint races Sunday for their first cross-country World Cup titles this season.

Pasini entered the final sprint in front to beat Russia's Nikolai Pankratov by 0.8 seconds. Pasini, competing in his only second race this season, won in 2 minutes, 27.9 seconds.

Overall World Cup leader Tobias Angerer of Germany was third, 1.2 seconds behind and retained his lead with 722 points after nine of 20 races. Russia's Alexander Legkov (567) is second overall and Arne Hetland of Norway (448) is third. Both missed this race.

In the women's race, Follis was timed at 2 minutes, 49.9 seconds -- 0.3 seconds ahead of Germany's Claudia Nystad-Kunzel and Kikkan Randall of the United States. A photo finish left the American in third place in her first career World Cup podium.

Randall was second to overall World Cup leader Virpi Kuitunen of Finland in the quarterfinal run and beat the Finn by 0.1 seconds in the semifinal race.

Kuitunen now has 917 points. Marit Bjoergen of Norway, who skipped the event, is second with 634 points, followed by Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic with 552.

The World Cup event is the first in Russia since the International Ski Federation stripped the country off races because of badly organized runs in the Kavgolovo, Leningrad region in 2003.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press