Russian Olympic Committee wins gold in 4x5 km cross-country skiing relay Photograph:( AFP )
The Russian Olympic Committee won the gold medal in the 4x5km relay at the Beijing Games on Saturday, with Germany securing a silver, their first cross-country medal at an Olympics.
The Russian Olympic Committee won the gold medal in the 4x5km relay at the Beijing Games on Saturday, with Germany beating off the superpowers of the sport to win a sensational silver for their first cross-country medal at an Olympics.
Sweden secured bronze as individual sprint champion Jonna Sundling bounced back from a poor third leg by Frida Karlsson to beat Finland's Krista Parmakoski in a sprint for third place.
The race will go down as one of the greatest Olympic days for Germany's women on the cross-country trails as they broke early along with the Russians and combined power and courage to hang on for a scarcely believable second place.
The four legs of the race were split, with the first two legs in the classic style and the second two freestyle, as each racer from the 18 teams completed two laps of the 2.5km track.
Norway's hopes suffered an early blow as Tiril Weng hit the deck following a collision with Latvian rival Patricija Eiduka, but her team managed to battle their way back into contention before falling away again late on.
The Russians took an early lead through Yulia Stupak, who led 12.9 seconds ahead of Sweden's Dahlqvist after her first lap. However, she was reined in by the unlikely figure of Katherine Sauerbrey of Germany by the first exchange as the Germans showed they were not here just to make up the numbers.
Sauerbrey's teammate Katharina Hennig made a surprise break midway through her second lap to leave Natalia Nepryaeva in her wake, building up a lead of 4.3 seconds at the second exchange, with the top seven teams all within 30 seconds of the leaders.
The chasing pack was whittled down to three during the third leg, with Swede Frida Karlsson, Finland's Kerttu Niskanen and Norway's Helene Marie Fossesholm tightly bunched together.
None of them seemed to be able to find a pace that would bring the gap down to less than 20 seconds however.
That left ROC's Veronika Stepanova and Germany's Sofie Krehl locked in battle on the final lap, with Stepanova spurting away to victory by 18.2 seconds ahead of Krehl to claim the Olympic crown before Sundling sprinted down Parmakoski for the bronze.