Norway mounts Swedish onslaught
by Andy McKenzie

Norway raided the Swedish Royal Palace, taking the top five places in the men’s cross country World Cup knockout sprint on February 28.

  • With King Carl Gustaf XVI looking on, their Scandinavian rivals swept the board in the men’s competition and added victory in the women’s final at the event, set in the royal castle gardens in the centre of Stockholm.

  • Built in 1697-1754, the Royal Palace houses a historical background of the Swedish royal family with art collections, tapestries and marble statuary occupying the 608 rooms.

  • The king is a known fan of the sport, listing downhill and cross-country skiing amongst his hobbies. He even competed in the 90km Vasa Race, Sweden’s famous annual cross-country skiing competition, in 1977 and 1987.

  • And despite the lack of a home win, he could not help but be impressed by the sparkling performances of the Norwegians on show.

  • Odd-Björn Hjelmeseth was crowned the men’s champion, comfortably beating his compatriot Tore Bjonviken in the final. Haavard Solbakken finished in third, with Tore Arne Hetland taking fourth place.

  • The women’s event was a closer run thing, with 1999 overall winner Bente Martinsen taking the title in a sprint finish with Pirjo Manninen of Finland in the final.

  • It was Martinsen’s 13th World Cup win and moves her into third place in the overall standings. The Norwegian is now just 63 points behind second placed Larissa Lazutina of Russia, who was beaten into fourth in Stockholm by Finland’s Kati Sundqvist.
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© 2000 Worldsport Networks Ltd Written by Andy McKenzie

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