Hattestad wins men's event; Slovenia's Majdic wins on women's side
KUUSAMO, Finland -- Ola Vigen Hattestad led a Norwegian sweep in the men's cross-country World Cup ski sprint opener Saturday, while Andy Newell of the United States finished in 11th place.
Petra Majdic of Slovenia won the women's event for her third consecutive victory. Kikkan Randall of Anchorage, Alaska, the first U.S. woman to win a World Cup cross country event, finished less than a second outside of qualification in 33rd place.
The Norwegian trio took command about halfway into the 1.4-kilometer final, with World Cup sprint title champion Hattestad finishing ahead of Tor Arne Hetland and John Kristian Dahl.
They were followed by Kalle Lassila of Finland, Nikolay Morilov of Russia and Emil Jonsson of Sweden, the sprint cup runner-up last season.
Newell of Shaftsbury, Vt., is steadily becoming one of the fastest men in the sport. He was the only U.S. skier to make it past qualifications in the classic technique race, the kind of sprint that will be used in the 2010 Olympics.
"It was a really hard course -- harder than what they've had here in the past -- because they added another hill," Newell said. "It had the most vertical of any sprint I have done, so it was really hard. I had 12 minutes in between all my heats to recover, but that's not enough for me to recover and get ready to race again.
"Eleventh place wasn't exactly what I was hoping for in the first sprint weekend, just because in the past we've had some good results here."
In the men's overall standings, Hattestad is even with Marcus Hellner of Sweden with 100 points. Hellner won the first race, a 15-kilometer freestyle event, last weekend in Gallivare, Sweden.
Adding the winner's 100 points to an 18th-place finish in the women's 10-kilometer free in Gallivare, Majdic took the lead in the overall standings with 113 points, ahead of Aino-Kaisa Saarinen of Finland at 105.
U.S. cross-country head coach Pete Vordenberg said Randall arrived less than a week ago and is still getting used to being in Europe.
"I feel like she's going to be back where she was last season -- and even ahead of that -- but it might take a little time," Vordenberg said.
On Sunday, the men will compete in a 15-kilometer event and the women at 10K. Both are classic-style races.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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