Emil Jönsson and Anna Carin Zidek won gold medals in ski races Dec. 1-4.
A pair of Swedes brought home World Cup gold as the 2010-11 skiing season got under way in less-than-perfect winter weather – blizzard-like conditions, heavy snows and, in one case , a nasty parasite.
Emil Jönsson picked up his sixth win on the World Cup circuit Dec. 4 when he came home first in the cross-country freestyle sprint final in Düsseldorf. The 25-year-old Swede beat Fulvio Scola of Italy and the Norwegian Oystein Pettersen on a circuit that cruised through the city center despite subzero temperatures.
His winning time was 3 minutes 38.5 seconds.
Favorite Alexei Petukhov of Russia, who won a bronze medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games for the team sprint, came fourth. Norway's Ole Vigen Hattestad, who won the overall World Cup titles in 2008 and 2009, was eliminated in the quarter-finals.
The results of the World Cup event had no impact on the overall standings as none of the top three - Russia's Alexander Legkov, Switzerland's Dario Cologna and Sweden's Marcus Hellner - raced in Düsseldorf.
Next race in Davos The trio are set to race Dec. 11 in Davos, Switzerland, where world No. 1 Petter Nothurg of Norway, who has missed the start of the season, is also to race.
On the women’s side, Anna Carin Zidek of Sweden hit every target on the 15-kilometre course to win the first race of the World Cup biathlon season Dec. 1 in Östersund, Sweden.
Zidek finished in 45 minutes, 26.1 seconds, while Marie Laure Brunet of France was second. Brunet missed two shots and was 8.9 seconds back. Helena Ekholm, formerly Jonsson, was third.
World Cup defending champion Magdalena Neuner missed the race because of illness.
Several biathletes, including Swedish star Ekholm, battled stomach problems from drinking contaminated water in Östersund. An intestinal parasite infected the municipal water supply of the city of 44,000. Doctors believe the parasite has infected around 7,000 inhabitants.
By Chipp Reid
Emil Jönsson celebrates after winning the World Cup cross-country race Dec. 4 in Düsseldorf, Germany.