Midway, Utah Feb. 12, 2002 (AP by Landon Hall)--Norway's Bente Skari held off two Russian rivals to win the gold medal in the women's 10-kilometer classical cross-country race Tuesday.
Skari finished the course at Soldier Hollow in 28 minutes, 5.6 seconds, pumping her arms hard over the final 100 meters to cross the finish line 2.5 seconds faster than Russia's Olga Danilova.
Julija Tchepalova, also of Russia, won the bronze in 28:09.9.
Wendy Wagner was the top American, finishing 38th. She was followed by Nina Kemppel (40th), Tessa Benoit (54th) and Aelin Peterson (55th).
Skari, the world champion in 1999 and 2000, is known on the cross-country circuit as the ``Classical Queen'' for her dominance in the technique, in which the skiers stay in narrow tracks. The freestyle technique resembles skating, with shorter skis.
Skari benefited by sitting out Saturday's 15K freestyle race, which she skipped to focus on the 10K.
The 10K had been held from 1952-88, then dropped for three straight Olympics before being reinstated this year.
Danilova, who won three medals in 1998, led at the 5.8K mark, with Skari in fourth, 15.5 seconds behind. She made up 10.7 seconds in the final 1.3 kilometers, and charged to the finish as Danilova watched.
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