Russian Tchepalova Wins Women's Sprint


Midway, Utah Feb. 19 2002 (AP)--Julija Tchepalova of Russia won the gold medal in the women's 1.5-kilometer cross-country sprint Tuesday.

Evi Sachenbacher of Germany won the silver and Anita Moen of Norway was the bronze medalist.

Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic, favored to win the event, was eliminated in the second round of competition.

Tchepalova covered the Soldier Hollow course in 3 minutes, 10.6 seconds--controlling the race from start to finish. It was her second medal of the games. She won bronze in the 15K freestyle event.

It also was her second gold medal in two Olympics. She won the 30K freestyle in 1998.

Athletes ski just under a mile in the sprint, a fast-paced, fan-friendly race making its Olympic debut.

The 58-woman field was narrowed during early morning qualifying. The fastest 16 skiers moved into four elimination heats. The top two skiers from each four-person heat advanced to the semifinals.

The top two skiers in each semifinal then advanced to the four-person final.

Americans Tessa Benoit, Kikkan Randall and Kristina Joder failed to qualify for the elimination heats.

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