Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Finland's Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Kerttu Niskanen combined for the fastest time in the semifinals of the women's cross-country team sprint Wednesday, while the United States secured a spot in the final as a lucky loser.
The Finns crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 42.15 seconds to win the first semifinal heat, while Poland edged Russia by .18 seconds to secure second, giving the Poles a spot in the final later on Wednesday.
The top two teams from each of the two semifinal heats advanced to the final, along with the next six fastest times overall.
The U.S. team of Sophie Caldwell and Kikkan Randall finished third in the second heat behind Norway and Sweden, but posted the second-fastest time of the lucky losers to advance to the final.
Norway's duo of Marit Bjoergen and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg paced the second heat with a time of 16:43.45, while Sweden, which won silver in this event in 2010, finished just over five seconds behind the Norwegians in second.
Russia, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland rounded out the lucky losers headed to the final. The German duo of Evi Schenbacher-Stehle and Claudia Nystad won gold in this event in Vancouver, but have been replaced by Stefanie Boehler and Denise Herrmann in Sochi.