OlympicsRacingSmigun Wins Gold, Beckie Scott 6th

FasterSkier FasterSkierFebruary 12, 2006

Kristina Smigun (Estonia) won the opening cross country race of the Torino Olympic Games today by outsprinting Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic for the Gold in the women's 15K Pursuit race. Russian Evgenia Medvedeva-Abruzova took the bronze medal.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was that Marit Bjoergen (NOR), who was fighting bronchitis up until a week ago, dropped out after about 5K.

Beckie Scott was in the lead pack until about halfway through the skate leg, when she faded to finish 6th. Sara Renner finished 16th. Rebecca Dussault placed 48th to lead the United States effort at Pragelato Plan. Her time of 47:53.7 was 5:05.0 behind gold medalist Smigun.

Other American finishes, with place, time and margin behind the winner: Lindsey Weier (Mahtomedi, Minn.), 55th, 48:45.0, +5:56.3; Abby Larson (Bozeman, Mont.), 56th, 48:47.5, +5:58.8; and Lindsey Williams (Hastings, Mont.), 62nd, 50:49.7, +8:01.0.

Scott and teammate Sara Renner set the pace early on in the classic leg and looked strong. A pack of about 12 stayed together for much of the classic, while Bjorgen and other favorites like Julia Tchepalova (RUS) dropped off the pace. Bjoergen was about 30 seconds back when she pulled over and called it quits. Renner eventually dropped from the leaders herself, but held her position in the teens.

At the transition, Petra Majdic was leading followed by Smigun, Neumannova, Pedersen and the rest of the pack, including Scott.

The lead pack played tactical cat and mouse for the first half of the skate leg, until Neumannova moved to the front and put the hammer down. This was too much for Beckie, and she was unable to stay with the leaders. Neumannova was looking very strong with only Smigun, Kristin Stormer Steira, and Medvedeva-Abruzova able to hang with her.

Beckie was able to get close again when Neumannova pulled aside to let someone else lead with about two kilometers to go. But eventually Smigun reluctantly took the lead and the chase was on, and Beckie dropped back again.

Coming into the finish, Neumannova was in the lead and looked to be in control, but Smigun had a strong finishing kick to pass the Czech and win the gold.

Women's 15km Pursuit 				
Sunday, February 12, 2006 -- Pragelato Plan				
Unofficial				
RANK	COUNTRY	 NAME		
1	EST	SMIGUN Kristina  	42:48.7	-- 
2	CZE	NEUMANNOVA Katerina  	42:50.6	1.9
3	RUS	MEDVEDEVA-ABRUZOVA Evgenia  	43:03.2	14.5
4	NOR	STEIRA Kristin Stormer  	43:06.8	18.1
5	ITA	PARUZZI Gabriella  	43:18.9	30.2
6	CAN	SCOTT Beckie   	43:20.6	31.9
7	RUS	SAVIALOVA Olga  	43:23.7	35
8	POL	KOWALCZYK Justyna  	43:25.6	36.9
9	RUS	TCHEPALOVA Yulia  	43:39.5	50.8
10	NOR	PEDERSEN Hilde G.  	43:40.5	51.8
11	SLO	MAJDIC Petra  	43:41.7	53
12	KAZ	MALAHOVA-SHISHKINA Svetlana  	44:00.0	+1:11.3 
13	FIN	LASSILA Riitta Liisa  	44:06.1	+1:17.4 
14	UKR	SHEVCHENKO Valentina  	44:13.6	+1:24.9 
15	SWE	NORGREN Britta  	44:18.0	+1:29.3 
16	CAN	RENNER Sara  	44:30.9	+1:42.2 
17	ITA	VALBUSA Sabina  	44:44.7	+1:56.0 
18	GER	KUENZEL Claudia  	44:48.1	+1:59.4 
19	NOR	STEMLAND Kristin Murer  	44:59.2	+2:10.5 
20	FRA	PHILIPPOT Karine  	45:06.5	+2:17.8 
21	CHN	WANG Chunli  	45:09.6	+2:20.9 
22	ITA	CONFORTOLA Antonella  	45:11.9	+2:23.2 
23	CZE	JANECKOVA Ivana  	45:33.5	+2:44.8 
24	SUI	LEONARDI CORTESI Natascia  	45:34.3	+2:45.6 
25	KAZ	KOLOMINA Elena  	45:44.1	+2:55.4 
26	UKR	JAKIMCHUK Vita  	45:48.1	+2:59.4 
27	CHN	LI Hongxue  	45:56.4	+3:07.7 
28	GER	BOEHLER Stefanie  	45:56.9	+3:08.2 
29	CZE	BALATKOVA ERBENOVA Helena  	45:57.0	+3:08.3 
30	JPN	YOKOYAMA Sumiko  	45:58.6	+3:09.9 
31	SWE	EK Elin  	46:02.7	+3:14.0 
32	CHN	LIU Yuanyuan  	46:18.5	+3:29.8 
33	FIN	HIETAMAEKI Elina  	46:20.5	+3:31.8 
34	FIN	VALIMAA Kirsi  	46:25.6	+3:36.9 
35	JPN	ISHIDA Masako  	46:37.7	+3:49.0 
36	ITA	FOLLIS Arianna  	46:40.9	+3:52.2 
37	RUS	BURUKHINA Elena  	46:42.9	+3:54.2 
38	JPN	SONETA Chizuru  	46:45.5	+3:56.8 
39	SLO	BENEDICIC Maja  	46:51.1	+4:02.4 
40	UKR	GRYGORENKO Kateryna  	46:55.2	+4:06.5 
41	KAZ	JATSKAJA Oxana  	46:57.0	+4:08.3 
42	AUS	BRUMLEY Clare-Louise  	47:03.1	+4:14.4 
43	BLR	SANNIKOVA Alena  	47:05.6	+4:16.9 
44	BLR	KOROLIK SHABLOUSKAYA Ludmila  	47:07.2	+4:18.5 
45	UKR	ZAVALIJ Tatjana  	47:18.7	+4:30.0 
46	SVK	PROCHAZKOVA Alena  	47:45.2	+4:56.5 
47	SWE	STROMSTEDT Anna Karin  	47:51.3	+5:02.6 
48	USA	DUSSAULT Rebecca  	47:53.7	+5:05.0 
49	BLR	RUDAKOVA BULAUKA Ekaterina  	48:09.2	+5:20.5 
50	KAZ	VOLOSHENKO Yevgeniya  	48:17.2	+5:28.5 
51	BLR	VASILJONOK Olga  	48:20.4	+5:31.7 
52	GER	HENKEL Manuela  	48:21.8	+5:33.1 
53	LTU	TERENTJEVA Irina  	48:33.7	+5:45.0 
54	CAN	THERIAULT Milaine  	48:38.9	+5:50.2 
55	USA	WEIER Lindsey  	48:45.0	+5:56.3 
56	USA	LARSON Abigail   	48:47.5	+5:58.8 
57	KOR	LEE Chae-Won  	49:01.2	+6:12.5 
58	CHN	XU Yinghui  	49:47.3	+6:58.6 
59	ROM	GYORGY Monika  	50:15.3	+7:26.6 
60	CAN	CRAWFORD Chandra  	50:35.4	+7:46.7 
61	ESP	AUBERT TORRENTS Laia  	50:41.3	+7:52.6 
62	USA	WILLIAMS Lindsey  	50:49.7	+8:01.0 
63	ESP	ORGUE Laura  	51:16.5	+8:27.8 
64	CRO	KEZELE Maja  	51:36.3	+8:47.6 
 	NOR	BJORGEN Marit  	DNF  	 
 	TUR	AYDIN Kelime  	DNF  	 
 	SCG	KUZELJEVC Branka  	DNF  	

Sources: Toroc, Eurosport, USOC

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