Brother and sister win medals in cross-country team sprint

Feb. 19, 2014 at 8:48 AM
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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The cross-country skiing Niskanen family of Finland celebrated two Olympic medals Wednesday and Norway earned some redemption in the women's team sprint.

Both the men's and women's team sprint races were held under sunny skies Wednesday and a Niskanen won a medal in each of them.

Kerttu Niskanen was part of the silver medal winning duo in the women's competition and her brother Iivo joined Sami Jauhojaervi to bring Finland gold in the men's race.

In the team sprint two competitors from each country take turns skiing 1.5 kilometers with the race consisting of six legs.

Marit Bjoergen and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg won the women's race for Norway to ease some of the pressure that had been brought to bear on the Norwegian cross-country team from the fans back home.

Norway failed to win a medal in either of the relay events and one of Norway's leading newspapers referred to those struggles as a "debacle".

Bjoergen, winner of the skiathlon competition at the Sochi Olympics, teamed with Oestberg to win by 9 seconds over the Finnish team of Niskanen and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen.

The Swedish duo of Ida Ingemarsdotter and Stina Nilsson finished third.

The gold medal in the men's team sprint was the first of these Olympics won by Finland. Twenty different nations have won at least one gold at the Sochi Games, breaking the Winter Olympics record of 19 countries set four years ago in Vancouver.

Jauhojaervi skied the final leg for the Finns in the men's race and heading into the final climb it was a three-team battle between Finland, Russia and Germany. Jauhojaervi then cut in front of Germany's Tim Tscharnke, who lost his balance and fell. Instead of winning a medal, perhaps a gold one, Germany finished seventh.

Russia wound up second and Sweden took advantage of Germany's misfortune to win the bronze.

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