February 22, 2015

FALUN, Sweden (AP) Norway showcased its cross-country skiing supremacy by dominating the team sprint races Sunday at the Nordic skiing world championships.

Norway took its tally to five golds from six cross-country events at the worlds as its men's and women's teams easily won both finals.

The event features two skiers on each team taking turn doing three laps each around the course and often comes down to a crowd-pleasing multi-way sprint to the finish, but Sunday's races lacked that kind of drama as the Norwegians decided matters early.

In the women's race, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg gave Norway a big lead on the penultimate leg and Maiken Caspersen Falla easily maintained the gap on the last lap. The men's victory was even more emphatic as Finn Haagen Krogh pulled away on the third leg and Petter Northug widened the gap after that. Northug earned his 11th world title and the second of these championships following his victory in the individual sprint on Thursday. For Krogh, it was his first major championship medal.

The win also completed Northug's gold medal collection at world championships, having won all six disciplines at least once - individual and team sprint here in Falun to go with previous victories in the skiathlon, 15-kilometer, 50K and relay races.

''It's good to have checked (off) all the distances,'' Northug said. ''''We really enjoyed the race here today. Both me and Finn were feeling strong before the race.''

Defending champion Russia beat Italy in a sprint for the silver medal. In the women's race, Sweden took silver after Stina Nilsson beat Poland's Sylwia Jaskowiec in a tight sprint for second place.

The United States entered the women's race as defending champion but the team of Sophie Caldwell and Jessie Diggins lost ground on the third leg and eventually finished eighth.

Norway's victory came despite the fact that six-time Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen - who won the individual sprint here on Thursday - decided to skip the event to rest up for next week's races. Oestberg isn't a bad backup, though - she took silver in the individual sprint behind Falla at last year's Sochi Olympics.

''I'm really happy that I could show that I also can do a really good job,'' Oestberg said.

Germany also came away with two golds, winning the Nordic combined team event and ski jump mixed team competition.

In Nordic combined, Germany led after the ski jump portion and then protected its advantage in the 4x5-kilometer cross-country relay.

The quartet of Tino Edelmann, Eric Frenzel, Fabian Riessle and Johannes Rydzek stayed in front throughout the race to finish in 44 minutes, 20.7 seconds. Norway was 23.1 seconds back to take silver, while defending champion France took bronze, 39.6 back.

It was Rydzek's second gold of the championships after winning the individual normal hill competition on Friday.

''We worked so hard for this and now everything went perfectly today,'' Rydzek said. ''On the last leg it was like a dream in the sunset, to ski and to know that, yeah, we can win this today.''

The mixed team ski jump was the closest affair of the day as Germany beat Norway by a mere 2.3 points after Severin Freund did just enough in the final jump to secure the gold.

Japan - with 42-year-old veteran Noriaki Kasai on the team - took bronze.

Germany's team also consisted of newly crowned women's world champion Carina Vogt, Katharina Althaus and Richard Freitag.

American jumper Nicholas Alexander crashed in the second round when his left knee buckled after landing and was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation. The U.S. finished seventh.

There are no competitions on Monday, with the next event being the women's 10-kilometer cross-country race on Tuesday.

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