PRAGELATO, Italy -- Norway's Marit Bjoergen won a sprint at
the World Cup cross-country finals Friday, giving her a chance to
overtake Italy's Gabriella Paruzzi for the overall title.
Paruzzi, a 2002 Olympic champion, finished fifth in the sprint.
She holds a 65-point lead over Bjoergen in the standings going into
the season's last race Saturday, a 15-kilometer freestyle. Each win
is worth 100 points.
Bjoergen edged Canada's Beckie Scott by 0.2 seconds in the
four-woman final in this resort that will host the cross-country
events at the 2006 Turin Olympics. Finland's Elina
Hietamaeki-Pienimaeki was third ahead of Germany's Claudia Kuenze.
Bjoergen, a specialist in the short sprints, captured the
specialty title by accumulating 745 points with seven straight
Italy's Freddy Schwienbacher captured his first World Cup win,
beating Norway's Jens Arne Svartedal and Boerre Naess in the men's
sprint. Germany's Rene Sommerfeldt, the overall title already
secured, was eliminated in the early rounds.
Sommerfedt had an unbeatable lead of 270 points over dethroned
overall champion Mathias Fredriksson of Sweden entering the last
men's event, a 30K freestyle Sunday.
Sweden's Thobias Fredriksson won the sprint title with 410
points from eight events. Svartedal finished second with 381.