US skiers dominate cross-country event

Coming in strongly to take the gold medal for the men's cross-country skiing freestyle sprint is American Kevin Bolger (No2). Photo: Lennon Bright/Winter Games NZ
Coming in strongly to take the gold medal for the men's cross-country skiing freestyle sprint is American Kevin Bolger (No2). Photo: Lennon Bright/Winter Games NZ
The United States dominated the cross-country skiing freestyle sprint at Snow Farm yesterday, part of the Winter Games.

Under the sprint format, athletes raced the 1.6km course four times in the space of two hours, in heats, semifinals and finals.

US women filled the top seven spots. Olympian Sophie Caldwell took gold, Olympic team-mate Ida Sargent the silver and Kelsey Phinney bronze.

It was more of the same in the men's final, as Americans Kevin Bolger and Benjamin Saxton took gold and silver respectively, but Japanese skier Tomoki Sato ensured it was not a clean sweep for the North American nation in finishing third

New Zealand duo Campbell Wright and Samuel Belk failed to get out of their heats, finishing 10th and 11th respectively.

Spectators were well rewarded as the result of both finals came right down to the final straight.

Bolger said he was ''really happy with the result'' of what was his first race of the year.

''I approached it pretty open-minded. It was a good day to test some new tactics, new strategies and attack every heat like I wanted to win it, and at the end of the day I came out on top and I'm really satisfied.''

With blue skies and light winds, conditions were at a pinnacle for the athletes.

''Everything is just perfect right now. The trail is groomed perfectly, the weather was great. Couldn't have asked for a better day, really,'' Bolger said.

The third and final cross-country ski event of the Winter Games - a 10km and 15km mass start - begins this morning at Snow Farm.

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