Swedes claim silver in cross country sprint

Sweden claimed a valiant silver behind Germany in the women's cross country team sprint event at Vancouver Winter Olympics on Monday, the team's fifth medal in the sport.

Russia claimed the bronze in a battling performance that went to the wire.

The Swedes led for much of the race and Anna Haag held off her German rival Claudia Nystad until they entered the stadium when the majestic German skier up the gears and swept past.

“We really went for gold, but we have to be satisfied with silver,” said Haag, who teamed up with Charlotte Kalla for the event.

“At the beginning of the final straight, I thought ‘maybe I can take it’, but there wasn’t enough distance left.

“She was too strong, Claudia (Nystad) is one of the best sprinters in the sport.”

The winning pair of Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Claudia Nystad came home first in a time of 18 minutes 3.7 seconds, with Sweden at 0.6 seconds back and the Russians at 4.0 seconds off the pace.

“It was a great race, Evi and I worked very well together,” Nystad said having skied an excellent final leg. “We did everything right and at the right time.”

Having timed her bid for gold perfectly, Nystad said she gave her all to win gold for Germany.

“I decided to just try everything, give it all I’ve got. I had no feelings, just a plan,” she said.

The race came down to a tight final leg with Nystad attacking hard after Anna Haag had seemed to have a decisive lead.

The German bided her time and then attacked coming into the stadium to earn her country’s sixth gold medal of these Games.

The Swedish team led after the first exchange and Charlotte Kalla, who won individual gold in the 10km, set a fast pace with Sachenbacher-Stehle pushing her all the way into the changeover.

Haag then kept Sweden in front with Nystad second on the second leg and although Germany stole the lead briefly after the next exchange, Kalla made sure it was the white suits of Sweden in front.

Haag seemed to have the race under control by the last exchange, but Sachenbacher-Stehle hung in and when she made her final move, her Swedish

rival could not respond.

But having claimed her second medal of the Games, Kalla said the Swedish pair could afford to party.

“We have a rest day tomorrow, so we can have a small celebration, then we will be preparing for Thursday’s relay,” she said.

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