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Pasini, Follis win World Cup freestyle sprint races

1/21/2007

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.