Sports

Remarkable Cologna

Switzerland's Dario Cologna picked the perfect time to rediscover his fitness and form, as he surged to victory in a protest-hit cross-country skiathlon at the Winter Olympics yesterday.

Cologna (right), who last week was still walking with a splint on an injured right ankle, attacked with less than a kilometre left in the 30km race to finish ahead of Swede Marcus Hellner.

Norway's overall World Cup leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby pipped Russian Maxim Vylegzhanin in a scramble on the line for bronze, prompting the Russian team to file a protest against the result, claiming that Sundby had cut across his opponent.

The protest was rejected, but the International Ski Federation (FIS) said in a statement that Sundby had been given "a written reprimand for a corridor rules infraction".

"I was tired by the end of the race and I had fog in my glasses," the Norwegian told a news conference.

"Maybe I left my line a little bit, but I don't think it changed anything. I'm sorry about that."

Russia, however, are likely to appeal the decision.

"The Russian Olympic Committee wants to appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport," Russian ski federation president Elena Vyalbe said, in a statement on the Russian Olympic team website.

The appeal will not impact on Cologna, however.

"It's great, a dream come true," he said.

"It's very special. I won here in the (2013) World Cup in Sochi, I just wanted to do the same again."

In skiathlon, skiers race the first half of the course on classic technique skis, then exchange them for skating skis in the stadium and finish the event using the free technique. The timer does not stop while the skiers change skis.

Cologna, the 15km freestyle Vancouver Olympics champion, suffered an ankle injury while jogging just before the season started and returned to the World Cup circuit last weekend.

Not being among the seeded skiers meant he started just behind the main pack of 20, but he quickly got among the leading bunch and never left it.

Heavily-fancied Norwegian Petter Northug, a four-time medallist in Vancouver, appeared at the front some five kilometres from home but, eventually, cracked and drifted in 17th.

Cologna made his break on the final short climb and never looked back, beating Hellner, who had won the event - then called "pursuit" - in Vancouver by 0.4 seconds. - Reuters.

MEDAL TALLY WINTER OLYMPICS