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Norway's Hjelmeset wins 50-kilometer race

Norway's Hjelmeset wins 50-kilometer race

Norway's Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeset won the men's 50-kilometer cross-country race on Sunday, the final day of the Nordic World Ski Championships.
Hjelmeset overtook compatriot and defending champion Frode Estil just before crossing the finish line to give Norway a 1-2 finish in the last event of the 2007 championships.
"This is good for me," said Hjelmeset. "The 50-K race has a life of its own. Frode and I have been training together for 15 years so I had to beat him but we didn't plan it that way."
Hjelmeset clocked a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, 12.6 seconds, 0.4 seconds ahead of Estil. Germany's Jens Filbrich took the bronze 4.5 seconds off the pace.
Hjelmeset broke the binding on his ski midway through the race and had to get a new ski.
"Someone tried to pass me and broke the binding on my ski," said Hjelmeset. "I had to change and get a new ski when I went into the stadium."
Norway, which won only one medal in Nordic events at the Turin Olympic Games in 2006, finished the championships in first place in the medal standings with 16. Germany was second with nine followed by Finland with eight.
Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic led for most of the second half of Sunday's race but Estil and Hjelmeset took over the lead at the 48-kilometer mark.
It looked as though Estil would successfully defend the title he won two years ago in Oberstdorf, Germany, but Hjelmeset surged ahead over the last few meters to take the gold medal.
"Of course, I would have loved to defend the title," said Estil. "But if I am going to lose to anyone I would prefer it be to Odd-Bjorn because he has been seeking this gold for a long time and we are good friends."
Hjelmeset won the bronze medal in this event at the 2005 world championships.
Germany's Tobias Angerer was fourth 10.5 seconds back while Bauer finished fifth.
The 2007 championships mark the first time the meet was held as an independent event in Asia. In 1972, when the Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo, they doubled as the FIS World Ski Championships.