New golds bring Norway Olympic record

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New golds bring Norway Olympic record
Ola Vigen Hattestad after his victory - Lise Åserud/NTB Scanpix

Norway's all-conquering nordic ski team on Tuesday overcame personal tragedy to seize both golds in crash-filled men's and women's sprints, taking their nation to over 100 medals in Olympic cross-country.


An exultant Maiken Caspersen Falla won the women's freestyle sprint for Norway to make it 100 medals for the nordic ski superpower in cross country skiing events at the Olympics.
Minutes later, Ola Vigen Hattestad crossed the line first in the men's event after a crashed-filled final where a major pile-up took out half the field.
Norway is the second country to win at least 100 medals in a specific sport at the Winter Games, after Austria's 107 in alpine skiing. With Ingvild Flugstad  Østberg  taking the silver in the women's event, Norway can now boast 102 medals in cross country skiing.
"It's just unbelievable. I can't believe what I just did. I've been dreaming of this since I was three years old," said Falla.
The Scandinavian country has now racked up 11 medals in the tournament, four of them gold, putting it ahead of Canada with nine medals, four of which are gold,  the US and the games' host Russia, which both have seven medals. 
Norway's women's ski stars had at their last race in Sochi incurred the wrath of the IOC by wearing black arm bands to remember the brother of teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen who died suddenly last week.
Jacobsen, competing despite the tragedy, finished fourth. Falla paid tribute to her bereaved teammate's bravery.
 "It's been a hard time for the Norwegian team after what happened with Astrid. Astrid is really strong and she's taken the decision to stay here in the Olympics," Falla said. "Her shape is so good. I really hope she's going to catch a medal."
Østberg said she dedicated her silver medal to her cousin who died in the bombings and shootings carried out by Anders Behring Breivik in Noway 2011.
"I want to dedicate it to my cousin that I lost in the tragedy in Norway in 2011. He was a great person and I try to live like him," she said.
Hattestad seized his chance to take the men's Olympic gold after a spectacular crash in what was by far the most eventful cross country race of the Games so far.
Hattestad came in first in 3min 38.39sec with Sweden's Teodor Peterson in second, 1:22sec behind, after the pair moved easily ahead of their rivals when three skiers crashed going round a steep right-hand bend.
Sweden's Emil Jönsson, who avoided the worst of the carnage, came in third for bronze and was so exhausted he had to be helped to his feet by medical
The crash destroyed the hopes of Anders Gløersen of Norway, Marcus Hellner of Sweden and home favourite Russian Sergey Ustiugov, to the bitter disappointment of the capacity crowd at the Laura cross country ski centre.
Britain's highly-regarded Andrew Musgrave, who is based in Norway and was aiming for the first ever British nordic medal, was knocked out in the quarter finals.
The steep course -- 1.8 km for the men and 1.3 for the women -- had caused problems galore for the men and women throughout the three rounds leading up to the final with several skiers coming to grief on the tight descents.
Falla finished in 2min 35.49sec, just 0.38sec in front of her colleague Østberg.  Slovenian Vesna Fabjan, on 2min 35.89sec won bronze, to break the Norwegian stranglehold.
In a stark demonstration of the strength in depth of the Norwegian team, nordic superstar Marit Bjørgen, who won the skiathlon at the weekend, did not qualify for the women's final.
Meanwhile, the biggest Norwegian star in the men's team, the fearsome Petter Northug, continued his poor run of form by going out in the semi finals.
Russia's failure to win any medals in the event will come as a heavy blow to the hosts. Russia's Vancouver 2010 sprint champion Nikita Kriukov went out in the quarter finals.


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