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Uhlaender's debut bumpy

But she settles for sixth in skeleton

Katie Uhlaender's Olympic skeleton debut was a perfect microcosm of her season.

Brilliant start, and promising. Then the little problems began piling up, all while she skittered headfirst down the mountainside, eyes darting about the ice, looking to find those slivers of seconds that separate medals from maybes.

And when it was over last night, the former skier from Breckenridge, Colo., watched the winners hoist themselves onto the podium in Cesana, Italy, sighed softly, and smiled.

''I know I could have been on that podium," Uhlaender said. ''But I'll take it. My first Olympics, my third season ever in the sport. I'm 21 years old. I've got plenty of time."

Uhlaender, America's lone entry in the 15-woman field, was sixth. Switzerland's Maya Pedersen, who returned to the sport less than two years after becoming a mother, won in 1 minute 59.83 seconds, 1.23 seconds better than Britain's Shelley Rudman, who won her nation's first medal of the Turin Games.

Canada's Mellisa Hollingsworth-Richards, the World Cup overall champion, won the bronze.

Cross-country skiing

Kristina Smigun scooted around the room hugging any friendly person she could find. She accepted congratulatory phone calls, her goggles still set snugly over the cap on her forehead as she motioned with her hands while recapping her race. The bubbly blonde from Estonia is a two-time individual Olympic gold medalist -- capturing both in a five-day span.

Smigun took the lead by the 7-kilometer mark in the interval start women's 10K classical cross-country race in Pragelato, Italy, earning her second gold in as many events after winning the 15K pursuit Sunday.

She finished in 27 minutes, 51.4 seconds, a commanding 21.3 seconds ahead of silver medalist Marit Bjorgen of Norway. Hilde Pedersen, 41, of Norway took the bronze, becoming the oldest woman to win a medal at an Olympic Winter Games.

Nordic combined

Mario Stecher erased a 20-second deficit during the final leg of the cross-country relay race in Pragelato, Italy, to lead Austria to the gold medal in the Nordic combined team event, which had been delayed a day because of high winds. In a thrilling finish, Stecher overtook Germany's Jens Gaiser midway through the last leg of the 4x5K cross-country race. Austria won in 49 minutes 52.6 seconds. Germany was 15.3 seconds behind to take the silver. Defending champ Finland won the bronze, 26.8 seconds back.

Women's biathlon

After biathlon star Olga Pyleva's shocking withdrawal before the start of the race, and eventual dismissal from the Games after failing a drug test, France's Florence Baverel-Robert pulled a surprising victory in the 7.5K sprint in Cesana, Italy.

Baverel-Robert, competing in her final Olympics, never had won a major competition in the event, which combines cross-country skiing and target shooting.

It was a day full of the unexpected at the biathlon course as the heavy snowfall at the start of the race turned to sunshine and slush by the end, when Ukraine's Lilia Efremova took the bronze. The only favorite to reach the podium was Anna Carin Oloffson of Sweden, who won silver.

She crossed just 2.4 seconds behind Baverel-Robert's winning time of 22 minutes, 31.4 seconds. Efremova was 6.6 seconds behind Baverel-Robert, who set up her victory with 10 perfect shots on the range.


Italy sent the home crowd into a frenzy at the speedskating oval by winning the first gold medal in men's team pursuit, defeating Canada in Turin in the final after upsetting the United States and the Netherlands. On the women's side, the powerful German team, led by Anni Friesinger and Claudia Pechstein, lived up to its role as favorite and handed Canada another silver medal.


The American women suffered a 5-4, extra-end loss to Sweden in Pinerolo, Italy, putting the United States on the brink of elimination. The Americans will need to win their last four matches in round-robin play to even have a chance at the medal round.

In the men's competition, the US beat Sweden, 10-6, to move into a tie with them for third in the 10-team field and into position for the medal round.

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