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Cologna takes 1st world title, Bjoergen her 10th

VAL DI FIEMME, Italy -- Dario Cologna finally captured his first Nordic world championships title in the skiathlon, while Marit Bjoergen racked up her 10th to close in on the all-time record on Saturday.

Ski jumper Anders Bardal won his first major title, at the age of 30, by taking gold in the normal hill event as Norway filled over half of the day's podium places.

Cologna timed his break perfectly to win the men's 30-kilometer pursuit, edging out Norwegians Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Sjur Roethe. Defending champion Petter Northug was fourth, 5.2 seconds behind Cologna.

The overall World Cup standings leader, Cologna beat Sundby by 1.8 seconds and Roethe by 2.0.

Having already won the overall World Cup three times to go with an Olympic gold, the Swiss skier can finally call himself a world champion as well.

“It's a very great feeling,” Cologna said. “I really wanted to win and I did everything I could. I felt great the whole race. It was a very strong, very tactical race.”

He made his move on the final uphill section, about 3 kilometers from the finish, and swiftly opened up a clear gap on his pursuers going into the final section, eliminating the chance of a closing sprint.

That was especially important to hold off Northug, the Norwegian seven-time world champ who specializes in his sprinting ability to win mass-start races.

“I expected it to be close at the end, but I did think someone might go a bit earlier,” Cologna said. “I tried to break a bit earlier but it didn't work. I felt very good at the top of the hill when I looked back and saw a small gap behind me.

“I wanted to fight for gold not silver, so I decided to go myself. The last uphill is always aggressive for me. I did it already on the final uphill at Sochi this month and today I did it again.”

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Switzerland's Dario Cologna poses with his gold medal on the podium of the men's cross country 15 km classic + 15 km free Skiathlon race at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships at the Val Di Fiemme Cross Country stadium in Cavalese, northern Italy, Saturday, Feb. 23. (AFP)

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