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Austrian Wins Cross Country Title

March 9, 2001

OSLO, Norway (AP) _ Felix Gottwald of Austria won the World Cup overall title Friday by capturing the final cross country race and spoiling a nearly perfect season for Bjarte Engen Vik of Norway.

Gottwald won by 51 seconds for his third straight victory and sixth this season.

Engen Vik, the 1998 Olympic champion, won this event and the team competition for Norway at the recent Nordic world championships. At Lahti, Finland, he became the first Nordic combined athlete in 66 years to retain his world title.

Competing at Holmenkollen, the cradle of Nordic skiing, Engen Vik said he lost his chance to win before his home fans in the opening ski jump.

``It was too windy and nearly a parody of a ski jumping contest,″ said Engen Vik, who was fifth in the ski jump. ``I had two bad jumps and lost my chance on the hill.″

Engen Vik started the 9-mile ski race 1 minute, 33 seconds behind ski jump winner Marco Baake of Germany. Gottwald set out just a second behind Baacke, who jumped 111 and 119 meters. It proved too much although Engen Vik is a superb skier.

At Holmenkollen, Engen Vik has six wins in eight Nordic combined events since 1996.

Finland’s Samppa Lajunen was last season’s overall champion with eight victories. He has yet to win this season and will have a last chance Saturday in the sprint event, the final event in the series.

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