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Page last updated at 18:59 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Sweden's Charlotte Kalla secures cross country crown

Sweden's Charlotte Kalla

Kalla wins women's 10km cross-country

Sweden's Charlotte Kalla stepped up to deny Kristina Smigun-Vaehi's quest to defend her 10km cross country title.

Estonian Smigun-Vaehi returned from retirement aiming to be first to defend the title and put in an outstanding race, collapsing over the line.

Kalla was the only one who could come close, overhauling Smigun-Vaehi by 6.6 seconds with a time of 24 min 58.4 sec.

World champion Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland struggled, finally coming in fifth, 21.7 seconds in arrears.

Marit Bjoergen of Norway took the bronze medal, 15.9 seconds back.

She already had two silver medals, from Turin and the 2002 Salt Lake City games.

Olympic debutante Kalla, 22, held a 12-second lead with less than 3km left but nearly fell as she rounded the final bend. She managed to stay upright and sprint her way to victory in her first Olympic start.

"It feels crazy right now," Kalla said. "I can't believe I am a gold medallist."

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see also
Winter Olympics day four photos
15 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010

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