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Russia looks for gold in cross-country team sprint

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 18, 2014 at 5:50 pm •  Published: February 18, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Russia has had a disappointing showing in cross-country skiing so far at the Sochi Olympics, with just one medal from eight events. Things could improve on Wednesday, though, when it is among the favorites in the men's team sprint.

Olympic and world sprint champion Nikita Kriukov will anchor the two-man Russian team in the classical-style event, and has shown before that he is a man for the big occasions. Kriukov surprisingly won the individual sprint in Vancouver four years ago, but showed that wasn't a fluke by capturing gold in both the individual and team events at least year's world championships.

If teammate Maxim Vylegzhanin can keep up with the others on his legs, Kriukov could well add another title to his collection. Vylegzhanin was on the relay team that took silver on Sunday, but his best individual finish of the games came when he finished fourth in the 30-kilometer skiathlon after losing a disputed sprint to Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby.

Norway and Sweden are also among the favorites in both the men's and women's events.

Here are five things to know about the cross-country team sprints:

NORWEGIAN REVENGE: The Norwegian teams are eager to make up for their failures in the relays, where both the men and women failed to get a medal. Petter Northug, who took gold in this event in Vancouver, is back to compete alongside Ola Vigen Hattestad, who won the individual sprint in Sochi. That's a fearsome duo that should be fighting for the medals, if Norway's wax team can get things right this time. On the women's side, Marit Bjoergen will partner with Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg as she looks for a fifth career gold.

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