Chinese woman skier Wang Chunli finished 21st in the 15km pursuit of cross country skiing, the best result for China at the Turin Winter Olympics in Pragelato Plan on Sunday.
Out of 67 competitors, Wang came out 21st in 45 minutes and 9.6 seconds. Li Hongxue, Liu Yuanyuan and Xu Yinghui ranked 27th, 32nd and 58th respectively.
Estonian Kristina Smigun took her first Olympic gold medal in 42:48.7, edging Czech Katerina Neumannova into second place in 42:50.6. Evgenia Medvedeva-Abruzova of Russia took the bronze medal in 43:03.2.
Li Xiaoming, head of the Chinese cross country skiing team, told Xinhua that they set the goal of squeezing into the top 30 before the Games and now it has been fulfilled.
Li noted that compared with Western countries, cross country skiing came to China very late but the Chinese women team is strong in Asia. Three Japanese skiers finished 30th, 35th and 38th while a Korean skiier fell down to the 57th place.
The Chinese team has arrived in Italy one month prior to the Games in order to accustom themselves to the conditions and climate here.
(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2006)