Olympic relay silver medalist Marit Bjorgen of Norway won the women's 15 km. pursuit cross-country race in Val di Fiemme, Italy, on Dec. 11 to consolidate her World Cup lead. Bjorgen, 24, claimed victory after a close finish with Estonia's Kristina Smigun, who finished second by just one second. Italy's reigning World Cup champion Gabriella Paruzzi finished third at 7.6 seconds. It was Bjorgen's fourth win of the season and gives her a 170-point lead over Smigun in the World Cup standings.
The NHL world-stars team beat the top Latvian side Riga 2000 4-2 to kick off their 10-match European tour on Dec. 9. Kris Draper and Sergei Fedorov scored 29 seconds apart, while Barret Jackman and Rhett Warrener also scored for the celebrity team, which is touring during the ongoing NHL lockout. Renars Undelis and Vitalijs Galuzo scored for Riga 2000. The world stars were given the red-carpet treatment by the Latvians, including a police escort to the rink and a meeting with newly appointed Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis. They also laid flowers at the grave of Sergei Zholtok, who died of heart failure while playing for Riga 2000 in Belarus last month.
Kelly Holmes (photo), the double Olympic gold medalist, won the 2004 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. The 34-year-old won gold in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters at the Athens Olympics and became a national heroine in Britain. The British public voted for her ahead of the legendary rower Matthew Pinsent and cricketer Andrew Flintoff. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger won the Coach of the Year award and Swiss tennis star Roger Federer won the Overseas Personality of the Year award.
Vitali Klitschko defeated Danny Williams in their WBC heavyweight title bout on Dec. 11. The Ukrainian outboxed his British opponent from the start and the referee stopped the fight in the eighth round after Williams hit the canvas for a fourth time. Afterward, the Ukrainian, who is nicknamed "Iron Fist," dubbed Williams "Iron Chin" for his resilience. Following the fight, former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis hinted he might come out of retirement. Lewis retired after defeating Klitschko in 2003.
Real Madrid and Real Socieded will play the final six minutes of their match on Jan. 5 after it was abandoned at 1-1 with two minutes to play because of a bomb scare.