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Italy Wins First Gold Medal at Turin Olympics


Armin Zoeggeler has won the first gold medal for host Italy at the Turin Winter Olympics. Zoeggeler sped down an icy luge track Sunday in a winning combined four-run time (3:26.088) just 11-100ths of a second faster than silver medalist Albert Demtschenko of Russia. The bronze went to Martins Rubenis of Latvia. Zoeggeler also won the event at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Earlier, Antoine Deneriaz of France pulled off a startling upset in the men's downhill ski race. Deneriaz made a late charge to finish with a two-run combined time of one minute 48.80 seconds. He edged favorite Austrian Michael Walchhofer by 72-100ths of a second (1:49.52). Bruno Kernen of Switzerland was third (1:49.82).

Kristina Smigun of Estonia was also a surprise winner in the women's 15-kilometer cross-country pursuit event with a time of 42 minutes, 48.7 seconds. Just one-point-nine seconds behind was Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic. Evgenia Medvedeva-Abruzova of Russia placed third (14.5 seconds back).

In the men's 1500 meter short track speed skating event, South Korea's Ahn Hyun-Soo won the gold with a time of 2:25.341, and his teammate Lee Ho-Suk took silver. China's Li Jiajun placed third.

Ireen Wust of the Netherlands stunned the favored Germans and Canadians by winning the gold medal in the Olympic 3,000 meter women's speedskating race with a time of four minutes, 2.43 seconds. Dutch teammate Renate Groenewold took silver (4:03.48) and Canadian world record holder Cindy Klassen got bronze (4:04.37).

Lars Bystoel of Norway soared to ski jumping gold with 266.5 points off the normal hill. Matti Hautamaaki of Finland took silver (265.5) with Roar Ljoekelsoey of Norway winning the bronze (264.5).

Russian Eugeni Dementiev of Russia won the 30-kilometer men's pursuit cross-country ski race in one hour, 17 minutes, 0.8 seconds. Frode Estil of Norway took silver. Italian Pietro Piller Cottrer won bronze.

The United States picked up two medals in men's snowboard half-pipe. Shaun White won the gold while teammate Daniel Kass took silver. Markku Koski of Finland won the bronze medal.

But dreams of a figure skating gold medal are over for American veteran Michelle Kwan. She pulled out of the Olympic Winter Games because of groin and hip muscle injuries from practice on Saturday. One of the most decorated athletes in sports, the 25-year-old Kwan has never won an Olympic gold medal. Emily Hughes will replace Kwan on the U.S. team.

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