Russia's Nikitina claims 1st skeleton WCup victory

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IGLS, Austria (AP) -- Junior world skeleton champion Elena Nikitina of Russia beat Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States to win a women's World Cup skeleton race on Friday that also counted as the European title.

It was the 20-year-old Nikitina's first victory in only her third World Cup start.

Nikitina won the junior world title on the same track in December and led after the first heat before finishing in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 50.46 seconds.

Pikus-Pace of the United States was 0.27 back, and Maria Orlova of Russia trailed Nikitina by 0.60 in third for her first career World Cup podium.

A men's race on the Olympic track in Igls is scheduled for Saturday, the final event before the world skeleton championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, starting on Monday.