VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (AP) — Marit Bjoergen of Norway won the third individual sprint world title of her career and Russia's Nikita Kriukov matched his Olympic gold as the Nordic world championships got into full action Thursday.
In the women's 1.2-kilometer classical event, Bjoergen clocked 3 minutes, 16.6 seconds. Ida Ingemarsdotter of Sweden finished 2.3 seconds behind, and Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway took bronze, 3.7 back.
Bjoergen won her first title at the worlds when they were last held in Val di Fiemme 10 years ago, then dominated the last worlds in Oslo two years ago with four golds. "This is incredible, because I thought the sprints were going to be hard for me," said Bjoergen, who also won three golds at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. "I had lost my shape the last few days. But my skis were perfect. The guys in the wax cabin did a great job."
Could she dominate the championships again? "It's too early to say. It's a good start," Bjoergen said. "I'm looking forward." In the men's 1.5-kilometer event, Kriukov cruised to victory in 3:30.4. Petter Northug Jr. of Norway crossed 0.3 behind, and Alex Harvey of Canada took bronze, 0.8 back.
"My tactic was to push on the last uphill and (have) a strong finish," Kriukov said. Friday's main event is women's ski jumping.