Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Norwegian cross country skier Ola Vigen Hattestad posted the best qualifying time for the men's sprint free competition on Tuesday, while compatriot Maiken Caspersen Falla finished with the top time on the women's side.
All eight Norwegian competitors moved on rather easily, with the top 30 times for both the men and women advancing to the quarterfinals.
Hattestad finished the course in 3 minutes, 28.35 seconds, just ahead of Russia's Sergey Ustiugov, while Falla led the women with a time of 2 minutes, 32.07 seconds.
Russia's Nikita Kriukov, who won the gold in Vancouver four years ago and again at last year's World Championships, finished 11th to move on to the men's quarterfinals.
Norway's Petter Northug opened his quest for a fifth Olympic medal by finishing 16th in qualifying, while Canadian Alex Harvey, who took bronze in this event at the 2013 World Championships, ended up in 19th place.
Americans Andrew Newell (17th) and Simeon Hamilton (21st) advanced on the men's side, while Sophie Caldwell (9th), Jessica Diggins (12th), Kikkan Randall (18th) and Ida Sargent (26th) moved on for the U.S. women.
Also on the women's side, Norway's Marit Bjoergen, who won this event at the Vancouver Games and claimed gold in the 15-kilometer skiathlon on Saturday, finished in third.