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Smigun Wins Women's 10km Classical Cross Country
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Estonian Kristina Smigun pocketed her second gold medal at the Turin Winter Olympic Games, by winning the women's 10km classical cross country on Thursday.

Smigun, who topped the podium in the women's 15km cross country pursuit on Sunday, finished in 27 minutes and 51.4 seconds, edging Norway's Marit Bjorgen and Hilde G. Pedersen into second and third by 21.3 and 22.6 seconds respectively.

The 29-year-old Smigun, who was only seventh in the 30km classical and 15km free at the Salt Lake City Winter Games four years ago, said that "I'm happy. Extremely happy. I have to go home, think about what I did and then I will know how I feel."

"It's the beginning of the season and I feel quite good. We did everything correct and perfect. I do hard, hard training," Smigun added.

Not until the end did Smigun realize that she won the race.

"At the last uphill I knew that Marit (Bjorgen) was first for only two seconds and I tried to push very hard. I was tired but I think everyone else was more tired than me."

With two golds in pocket, Smigun hopes for a third one. "Apart from the gold I'm wearing, I would like one medal in one pocket and another one in the other pocket. It's possible for me to win another gold medal."

Bjorgen and Pedersen, who both had suffered from stomach viruses at the beginning of the Games, claimed their first individual medals at a Winter Olympics. These were the first medals for Norway in the women's cross country at the Turin Games.

As for Marit Bjorgen, the silver medallist in the 4X5km relay at the 2002 Winter Games, her strongest feeling was tiredness.

"It's fantastic, I'm so happy. I was exhausted at the end. The first six laps went OK, and then I started to feel tired, but we (Bjorgen and Pedersen) had so much fun. It's so great that we both won."

The 25-year-old Bjorgen made a haul of three golds at the 2005 World Championships and was the favorite to top the podium.

Pedersen, 41, won a silver medal in the 4X5km relay in Salt Lake City and bagged two golds at the 2005 Worlds.

"I gave everything and we had so much fun. I was really tired at the end. I didn't have so much power at the beginning, but I realized I had a good time, I felt much more energy."

Neumannova of Russia, silver medallist in the 15km pursuit, finished fifth on Thursday's competition.

"I was very tired in the last part of the competition, because the hill was very high, and I hope that in skating races I will do better results."

(Xinhua News Agency February 17, 2006)

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