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Finns win men's race despite German protest, Norway win women's

By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Finland won the men's cross-country team sprint title at the Winter Olympics on Wednesday after a protest by Germany, whose athlete fell close to the finish, was turned down.

In the women's event, Norway, anchored by five-times Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen, were victorious.

Bjoergen paired up with Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg to bring Norway home in 16 minutes 04.05 seconds and win the country's fourth cross-country skiing title at these Games.

Norway's men, who have been underperforming in Sochi, could do no better than fourth in a crash-hit final won by Finland, who were ahead of Russia and Sweden.

The Swedes have 11 cross country medals in Sochi, to Finland's eight, but only two golds.

Germany's Tim Tscharnke hit the ground after bumping into Sami Jauhojaervi. The Finn, who was ahead, changed his line just before the final sprint.

Tscharnke said Jauhojaervi took his line, causing him to fall.

"The Finnish guy crossed my line, that's why I fell," he told reporters after Germany finished seventh. "I simply couldn't do anything. We'll protest."

Organizers said the appeal had been rejected by the International Ski Federation.

Jauhojaervi said : "It happened just 300 meters before the finish line. The skier who is the first has a right to choose the track. And it was me.

"I don't remember, who kicked the first - me or the German skier. Anyway it's a pity that (the) German team have lost the medals. It's not fair. The only thing I could say is to make an apology for this collision."

Russians Maxim Vylegzhanin and Nikita Kriukov, who managed to stay on their skis despite the tumble, took second place and Sweden finished third with Emil Joensson and Teodor Peterson.

The women's race was far less dramatic as Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Kerttu Niskanen took silver for Finland, 9.09 seconds behind Norway.

Stina Nilsson beat Germany's Denise Herrmann in a pulsating dash to the line to claim bronze for Sweden with Ida Ingemarsdotter 19.77 seconds off the pace.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot)

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