The Estonian cross-country skier Kristina Smigun earned her first victory of the season on Nov. 28 when she won the 10 km. classic-style World Cup race in Kuusamo, Finland. Smigun recorded a time of 27 minutes 47.4 seconds, beating Katerina Neumannova from the Czech Republic and Marit Bjorgen from Norway by 13 and 14.4 seconds respectively. Bjorgen leads the points table with 310 points, Smigun is second with 260 and Neumannova third with 225 points. The World Cup continues on Dec.4 in Berlin.
The new Pan-Baltic SEB Baltic Basketball League was officially launched in Vilnius on Nov. 26. The Latvian and Estonian presidents Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Arnold Ruutel and Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas all expressed their support for the new league while attending the ceremony. SEB BBL games will start in Jan. 2005 and be played through Apr. 2005. The strongest10 teams from the three Baltic leagues over the past two seasons - five from Lithuania, three from Latvia and two from Estonia - will make up the new "super" league. The 14 remaining teams will play in a new second division.
Jurijs Andrejevs has officially been promoted from assistant to head coach of the Latvian national soccer team, the country's football federation announced last week. Andrejevs replaces Aleksandrs Starkovs, who resigned earlier this month to take over at the Russian club Spartak Moscow. Andrejevs coached Latvia for its last two matches while Starkovs served part of a six-game suspension. Besides taking over the national team, Andrejevs has also taken over as head coach of Latvian Premier League champions Skonto Riga, which set a European record earlier this month when it won its 14th straight league title.
Three strikers have been nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year award. Arsenal's Thierry Henry, AC Milan's Andrei Shevchenko and Barcelona's Ronaldinho have never won the award before, although Henry came second to Zinedine Zidane last year. The winner will be named on Dec. 20 at FIFA's World Player Gala, which will be held at Zurich's opera house. FIFA has changed the panel of voters for this year's awards so that now male and female captains from every national team will be able to vote, as well as their coaches and FIPRO, the global organization for professional soccer players.