VAL DI FIEMME, Italy — Petter Northug and the Norwegian men trounced the men’s 4×10 k relay field on Friday at World Championships with a tactical game in the last leg and final sprint with Sweden, Russia and Italy. For most of the final 10 k the leaders eased way off the pace, standing up on downhills and stopping to make others take the lead. The pace was so slow that teams like the United States, Finland and France, who started the last leg way behind leaders, were able to bring themselves back into contact.
But when Northug decided to go on the second-to-last climb no one could match his finishing kick. Northug tilted his head and smirked for the cameras as he crossed the line 1.2 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson.
“This was a dream relay,” Northug told the NRK after finishing. “It’s awful fun to win the relay, and a dream to fight against Sweden at the end. I know what rests on my shoulders. It is almost a scandal to be number two.”
The American anchor, Tad Elliott, brought his team home in 10th (+1:01.4) after spending all his energy clawing back to the leaders on his first laps. Canada finished twelfth (+2:39.3).