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Norway Claims 100th Gold Winning Women’s 4x5km Relay #Lahti2017 – Team USA 4th, Canada 10th

by Noah Brautigam

March 02, 2017 (Lahti, Finland) – The Norwegian women were golden once again today in Lahti taking a decisive victory in the women’s 4x5km relay marking the nation’s 100th gold medal at a Championship (including the Olympics). Sweden claimed the silver as Finland settled for the bronze in hard-fought battle.

Norway [P] Nordic Focus

Team USA came into today’s relay with high expectations after recent medal performances in this event but could not close the gap on the leaders settling for a solid 4th. The Canadian squad delivered a strong result finishing 10th for their second best women’s relay result.

Marit Bjoergen [P] Nordic Focus
Marit Bjoergen had time to grab a Norwegian flag near the finish to celebrate as she soloed across the line for the win. The real battle raged behind as Stina Nilsson of Sweden out-foxed Finland’s Krista Parmakoski using a slingshot off the final downhill taking the inside line to secure the silver medal by 0.5 seconds ahead her Finnish rival.

As the race unfolded Maiken Caspersen Falla scrambled to a 7-second lead over Sweden, Finland and Poland’s Justyna Kowalcyzk on the opening leg. The USA’s Kikkan Randall sat mid-field amidst the aggressive early pace, handing off to Sadie Bjornsen in 5th at 24.5 seconds behind the leaders. Katherine Stewart-Jones scrambled well for Canada tagging Emily Nishikawa in 8th.

Kikkan Randall [P] Nordic Focus
“With Kowalczyk, Saarinen and Haag on the first leg I knew it was likely to be a fast pace from the start, and they did not disappoint! I did my best to hand on as much as I could but I lost a little too much ground at the end of the first lap,” said Randall after the race. “My skis were fantastic today. I was anxious about having enough grip up the hills and I had as much as I think was possible given the conditions.”

Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Bjornsen moved the USA up into 4th but the gap to the leaders was now 36.2 seconds as she handed off to Liz Stephen. For Nishikawa skied the second classical leg for Canada dropping one spot to 9th with Cendrine Browne taking over.

Stephen continued the charge, maintaining 4th place overall, but handing off to Jessie Diggins 1:19.8 behind Norway, and 20 seconds behind Finland and Sweden.

Stephen tags Diggins [P] Nordic Focus
“I didn’t anticipate skiing alone the whole time, as this year on World Cup the relays have been much closer than in past years, so there has always been someone to ski with and fight head to head with the whole 5k,” commented Stephen.

“Today I was out to hunt down people, but was just not able to ski the way I needed to in order to do so.  I am really happy with this team’s guts, fight to the death mindset,” she added. Browne tagged Canadian anchor Dahria Beatty in 10th.

Diggins [P] Nordic Focus
Diggins charged off the line with the Finn and Swede in her sights, but tired in her second lap, finishing at 1:33.8 behind Norway, and 31 seconds behind Nilsson and Parmakoski.

“We didn’t come here to finish fourth, we came here to win,” said Diggins. “But we worked so hard and I’m really proud of my team today.” It was the third straight world championships in which the USA was fourth.

Team Canada [P] CCC
The Canadian women skied a strong race across the board, finishing in 10th overall, out of 16 teams. Post-race, Beatty told Trax, “The conditions were really soft today, which made for tough skating. I had good skis and was really excited for this race.”

“I am really proud of my team, Katherine, Emily and Cendrine all skied amazingly. Cendrine handed off to me in 10th place just a bit behind the Italians. I tried really hard to close that gap on the first lap but wasn’t able to in the soft conditions. So I skied my leg alone to bring us home in 10th, which is our best World Championships result since 2001,” she concluded.

Racing continues this week in Lahti, with the men’s 4x10km relay tomorrow, followed by the women’s 30km freestyle on Saturday, and the men’s 50km freestyle Sunday.

Results here

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