Bjoergen helps Norway win gold

WHISTLER, British Columbia -- Norway has won the women's cross-country relay after Marit Bjoergen decided the race on the final leg for her third gold medal of the Vancouver Olympics.

Bjoergen and Italy's Sabina Valbusa went out together at the final exchange Thursday, but the Norwegian immediately pulled away from her only remaining rival and skied alone the rest of the way.

The U.S. team placed 12th in the event, finishing 3 minutes, 38 seconds behind the Norwegians.

Norway finished the 4x5-kilometer race in 55 minutes, 19.5 seconds.

Germany took the silver after Valbusa faded, and Finland won the bronze.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.