Finland keep cross country sprint gold despite German protest
Finland's Iivo Niskanen (L) and teammate Sami Jauhojaervi celebrate their win in the men's cross country team sprint final during the Sochi Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor near Sochi on February 19, 2014 - by Odd Andersen
Norway's cross country skiing superstar Marit Bjoergen meanwhile took her country to victory in the women's team sprint race, the fifth Olympic gold of her career.
The Finnish men's duo of Sami Jauhojaervi and Iivo Niskanen howled with delight after their victory in the event, where the team of two take it in turns to perform three punishing sprints each. They finished in 23min 14.89sec
Germany's Tim Tscharnke looked certain to win his country a medal but fell after touching skis with Jauhojaervi on the last descent.
His fall nearly took out Russia's Nikita Kriukov but the Russian kept his balance to take silver for his country in 23:15.86. Sweden won the bronze.
After the incident, Germany protested that their athlete had been impeded unfairly, in a move that could have seen Finland stripped of gold.
But the jury rejected the protest, describing the clash as a "race incident".
Jauhojaervi contended that he had done nothing wrong but admitted he felt sorry for the German team.
"Unfortunately, Tim was crossing my line a bit and our skis -- or something, I think it was skis -- collided a bit, and he unfortunately fell down.
"So they made a protest and the jury decided that what I did was inside the rules, so I'm really sad for Germany that they lost the medal."
He said he would celebrate the gold -- Finland's first at the Winter Olympics since 2002 -- in the traditional Finnish manner.
"Tonight I will have a sauna and eat well."
Tscharnke meanwhile made no effort to hide his frustration: "Shit. No need to say more. It was a safe medal. I think we deserved it."
Kriukov meanwhile said the incident could have cost him gold. "I lost my speed, I had to change my track, I had to push hard and I lost those precious metres."
Norway, anchored by the fearsome Petter Northug, endured another huge disappointment, coming fourth in the latest blow for the Norwegian number one.
"We suck," declared Northug afterwards with characteristic bluntness.
In the women's race, Norway finished in 16 min 4.05sec, with Finland 9.09sec behind for silver. Sweden took the bronze in 16min 23.82sec.
Bjoergen, who raced with Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, had already won the skiathlon at Sochi 2014 to go with her three golds from Vancouver 2010.
Her five golds leave her one short of record of six by a female winter Olympian, jointly held by Soviet speed skater Lidia Skoblikova and Russian cross country skier Lyubov Yegorova.
"We have the strongest team ever. Maybe this is my last Olympic medal," said Bjoergen, 33.
She said the Norwegians appeared to have finally overcome the waxing problems that marred their last races.
"We had some problems but they (the waxing technicians) worked very hard. I'm proud of the whole Norwegian team."