Athletes start for the men's 4x10 km Relay race at the 2017 Nordic Skiing World Championships in Lahti, Finland, Friday, March 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
March 03, 2017

LAHTI, Finland (AP) Norway held off a Russian challenge to win the men's 4x10-kilometer cross-country ski relay at the Nordic world championships on Friday.

Norway and Russia pulled away from the rest early on and were level at the halfway point before Martin Johnsrud Sundby opened up a 17.7-second lead over Russia's Alexei Chervotkin on the third leg.

Finn Haagen Krogh held off hard-charging Sergei Ustyugov on the final leg to win by 4.6 seconds.

''Ustyugov is the worst to have behind you on such a stage. It was a tough fight and it was great we could make it,'' Krogh said.

Sundby said the final leg was ''absolutely wild'' for the Norwegian team to watch.

It was Norway's sixth cross-country gold of the championships, but first in a men's event, while Ustyugov was denied a third gold. Norway has won the men's and women's relays in a demonstration of strength in depth ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Two and a half minutes further back, Sweden took bronze as Calle Halfvarsson beat Swiss rival Curdin Perl in a sprint to the line.

Finland's Matti Heikkinen was in the hunt for third too, but fell on the final bend.

Also, Germany completed a sweep of the four gold medals in the Nordic combined events with victory in the large hill team sprint.

Eric Frenzel and Johannes Rydzek - who was on the top step of the podium for each German win - were second to France in the ski jump portion, but dominated the cross-country skiing to win by one second from Norway.

Japan was 9.2 seconds further back for the bronze.

It was the first gold medal sweep in Nordic combined at the world championships since Japan in 1993, though there were only two events at the time. The United States in 2009 and France in 2013 each won three gold medals out of four that were available.

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