Sprint events up next for cross-country skiers

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 10, 2014 at 6:09 pm •  Published: February 10, 2014
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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Enough talk about black armbands and protests. The Norwegian cross-country skiing team hopes to get back to what it does best on Tuesday: winning gold medals.

The men's and women's individual freestyle sprint will be a welcome distraction for the Norwegians after two days of negative talking points.

The team was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee after the women's team wore black armbands in Saturday's 15-kilometer skiathlon to honor the deceased brother of teammate Astrid Uhrholdt Jacobsen, who died a day earlier.

The men's team also had a controversial ending to Sunday's 30-kilometer skiathlon, when Martin Johnsrud Sundby took bronze but was given a written warning for impeding Russia's Maxim Vylegzhanin on the final sprint. A jury ruled that Sundby could keep the medal despite his rule violation, but the Russian team has appealed that decision to the International Ski Federation.

Sundby isn't competing in Tuesday's event, but Norway has plenty of other medal contenders. Here are five things to know about the individual sprints:

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BJOERGEN VS RANDALL: Marit Bjoergen is looking for her fifth Olympic gold, but needs to stave off a challenge by sprint specialist Kikkan Randall, who is trying to become the first American woman to win an Olympic cross-country medal. Bjoergen is the defending Olympic champion; Randall has won the last two World Cup sprint titles. The two could well be side by side racing toward the finish line in the final.