Norway slayed some demons in the Olympic venue, destroying the field to win the team sprint.
Sport: Cross-country skiing
Event: Women’s team sprint (classical)
Medalists: Norway, Finland, Sweden
SportsMyriad projections: Sweden, Finland, Norway
How U.S. fared: Sophie Caldwell and Kikkan Randall — one surprise and one shock of the individual freestyle sprint — hung tough with Norway and Sweden in their semifinal to qualify for the 10-team final. Caldwell stuck within 1.53 seconds of the lead in her first lap and came across in fourth, but Randall — better in freestyle — couldn’t keep up with the classic stars in the second lap. They faded to eighth place, 44.03 seconds off the pace.
What happened: Each team has two skiers who alternate laps. Six laps total, three laps for each skier. Each lap takes a little more than two and a half minutes.
Norwegian star Marit Bjoergen, who has had a hit-or-miss Olympics, put the hammer down on the second lap (her first). She built a lead of nearly three seconds. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg kept that lead comfortably, and Bjoergen built it out to nearly five seconds in the fourth lap.
Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Kerttu Niskanen stuck around in second — through four laps, about five seconds behind Norway and five ahead of the chasers battling for bronze. Germany, Sweden and Poland were in the mix there.
After five laps, Oestberg had kept the lead over four seconds. Finland had pulled away a bit from Germany, which had pulled away from Sweden, which had pulled away from Poland. But Poland’s anchor was the great Justyna Kowalczyk, who took the handoff 10 seconds and change out of third place.
Bjoergen cruised to her second gold of the Games. Finland was easily second. The big push was for bronze, with Sweden’s Stina Nilsson pulling past Germany’s Denise Herrman down the stretch.