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    Sunday, December 14, 1997

    Daehlie, Russian women keep right on winning

     LAGO DI TESERO, Italy (AP) -- Norway's Bjorn Daehlie easily won a 15-kilometer pursuit cross country race Sunday to extend his World Cup lead, and Russia edged Italy in a women's 4 x 5-kilometer relay.
     Daehlie won for the third time in four races this season. The quartet of Svetlana Nagejkina, Elena Valbe, Larissa Lazutina and Olga Danilova gave Russia its 20th victory in the last 21 women's relays.
     Daehlie took full advantage of the head start he earned by taking a 10-kilometer race Saturday. The world champion finished Sunday in 35 minutes, 44.5 seconds, nine seconds ahead of countryman Thomas Alsgaard.
     Alsgaard actually had the best performance of any entrant Sunday. Daehlie skied only the 14th-fastest time on the day, but his hefty advantage from Saturday held up.
     Austria's Michail Botvinov was third Sunday in 35:56.5, with Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakstan next in 36:11. There was a big drop to fifth place, with Sweden's Henrik Forsberg clocked in 36:36.5.
     The Norwegian duo is also 1-2 in the World Cup rankings. Daehlie has 332 points to Alsgaard's 206, followed by Smirnov (190), Forsberg (142) and Botvinov (130).
     In the relay, Russia led throughout to continue its streak of success, finishing in 52:08.4. Italy, with Stefania Belmondo skiing a strong final leg, overtook the Russia II team for second place in 52:11.8. Russia II was next in 52:17.2.
     Belmondo, former world and Olympic champion, pulled past Russia II's Nina Gavriljuk in the final kilometer and was partnered by Gabriella Paruzzi, Manuela Di Centa and Sabina Valbusa.
     For Di Centa, her second race in two days following a 10-month injury absence was something of a struggle, but she kept the Italians in the hunt for a top-three finish.
     "There was a lot of tension and excitement. I think I skied well and, given that I'm still not in top condition, I'm pleased with my performance," said Di Centa, a two-time World Cup titlist and winner of five medals at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics who has battled injuries this year.
     She was 17th in Saturday's 5-kilometer race, won by World Cup leader Bente Martinsen of Norway.
     
     -----
     Nordic World Cup Results
     LAGO DI TESERO, Italy (AP) -- Leading finishers Sunday in Nordic World Cup cross country skiing races:
     Men
     15-Kilometer Pursuit
     1, Bjorn Daehlie, Norway, 35 minutes, 44.5 seconds.
     2, Thomas Lasgaard, Norway, 35:53.5.
     3, Michail Botvinov, Austria, 35:56.5.
     4, Vladimir Smirnov, Kazakstan, 36:11.
     5, Henrik Forsberg, Sweden, 36:36.5.
     6, x-Fulvio Valbusa, Italy, 36:36.7.
     7, Torgny Mogren, Sweden, 36:37.
     8, Maurizio Pozzi, Italy, 36:37.3.
     tie, Johann Muehlegg, Germany, 36:37.3.
     10, Jari Isometsa, Finland, 36:38.7.
     11, Andreas Schluetter, Germany, 36:43.3.
     12, Fabio Maj, Italy, 36:43.7.
     13, Silvio Fauner, Italy, 36:44.4.
     14, Mathias Fredriksson, Sweden, 36:46.9.
     15, Krister Sorgaard, Norway, 36:51.1.
     Also
     27, Marcus Nash, United States, 37:49.9.
     56, Chris Blanchard, Canada, 40:23.5.
     58, John Bauer, United States, 40:40.1.
     x-Valbusa's result is subject to approval by the FIS, which must rule on his disqualification from Saturday's race. World Cup Standings
     (After Four Events)
     1, Daehlie, 332 points.
     2, Alsgaard, 206.
     3, Smirnov, 190.
     4, Forsberg, 142.
     5, Botvinov, 130.
     6, Sture Sivertsen, Norway, 124.
     7, Erling Jevne, Norway, 117.
     8, Ari Palolahti, Finland, 100.
     9, Tobias Fredriksson, Sweden, 80.
     tie, Mathias Fredriksson, 80.
     tie, Mogren, 80.
     Also
     46, Nash, 13.
     ------
     Women
     4x5-Kilometer Freestyle Relay
     1, Russia (Svetlana Nagejkina, Elena Valbe, Larissa Lazutina, Olga Danilova), 52 minutes, 8.4 seconds.
     2, Italy (Gabriella Paruzzi, Manuela Di Centa, Sabina Valbusa, Stefania Belmondo), 52:11.8.
     3, Russia II (Natalia Masolinkia, Olga Korneeva, Julija Tschepalova, Nina Gavriljuk), 52:17.2.
     4, Norway, 52:46.1.
     5, Germany, 53:16.
     6, Norway II, 53:20.9.
     7, France, 53:48.2.
     8, Sweden, 54:06.8.
     9, Finland, 54:23.6.
     10, Czech Republic, 54:25.4.
     11, Poland, 54:26.2.
     12, Switzerland, 54:27.9.
     13, Japan, 54:28.5.
     14, Ukraine, 54:42.7.
     15, Estonia, 54:51.1.
     Also
     21, Canada (Beckie Scott, Milaine Theriault, Jaime Fortier, Sara Renner), 56:46.5.
     Nation's Cup Standings
     Overall
     1, Norway, 2381 points.
     2, Russia, 1537.
     3, Sweden, 1001.
     4, Italy, 981.
     5, Germany, 638. Also
     13, Japan, 302.
     17, Canada, 135.
     21, United States, 61.
     Men
     1, Norway, 1294.
     2, Sweden, 757.
     3, Austria, 470.
     4, Italy, 433.
     5, Germany, 356.
     Women
     1, Russia, 1197.
     2, Norway, 1087.
     3, Italy, 548.
     4, France, 350.
     5, Finland, 293.