CANOE NAGANO '98 ISP DIRECTORY
Friday, February 13, 1998
Alsgaard wins 15K freestyle pursuit
HAKUBA, Japan (AP) -- No hug this time, and no record gold medal,
either. No man has won more at the Winter Olympics than Bjorn Dahlie, which
makes losing that much harder.
Especially this loss, this way -- so close to another gold medal, so
close to immortality.
Dahlie and fellow Norwegian Thomas Alsgaard skied stride for stride
for the final two-thirds of their 15-kilometer freestyle pursuit Saturday
(Friday night EST), just as they have so many times in so many races.
With one difference -- this time, Dahlie, the man who usually wins,
lost, as Alsgaard overtook him in the final 100 meters. And it hurt, even to a
man whose Olympic greatness and renowned sportsmanship don't end when he
unstraps his skis.
The close defeat prevented Dahlie from becoming the first winter
Olympian to win seven gold medals. He briefly congratulated Alsgaard, but there
was no friendly hug like the one he gave last-place finisher Phillip Boit of
Kenya following the 10-kilometer classical race two days before. This time,
there was just a polite tapping of fists.
Dahlie insisted he wasn't interested in the record of seven golds,
but the disappointment in his eyes and his gestures seemed to suggest
"I don't look at the lists too much," he said. "I wasn't thinking of
getting seven medals. I wa focusing only on the race so I'm not disappointed at
Dahlie still became the winningest man in Winter Olympics history,
with six golds and four silvers. That total ties him with Raisa Smetanina of
the former Soviet Union for most winter medals.
Dahlie's victory Thursday in the 10K, which serves as the first half
of the pursuit, gave him a 19.4-second lead over Alsgaard, who was the fifth
skier to go off.
Alsgaard made up the deficit in the first 5 kilometers, then stayed
right behind Dahlie the rest of the way. The two looked at times as if they
were training together, striding in unison through the Snow Harp course made
sloppy by a steady rain.
Dahlie occasionally glanced a peek at Alsgaard, who was content to
let his teammate lead -- until the dramatic finish.
When the two moved into separate lanes near the end, Alsgaard surged
past his teammate and got to the line first, pumping his fists into the air.
"I earned this gold medal," he said. "Bjorn is a great skier and he
will dominate cross country so long as he continues to ski. But, after that, I
see a chance for me."
Alsgaard finished in 39 minutes 37.7 seconds, giving him a total time
of 1 hour, 7 minutes, 1.7 seconds. Dahlie's total was 1:07:02.8 -- barely a
second behind -- and bronze medalist Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakstan finished in
Alsgaard, the 30K champion at Lillehammer four years ago, has moved
into a house on the same street as Dahlie in a town 30 miles north of Oslo. He
admits there is rivalry, albeit friendly.
"Of course there's a big fight to be the best skier back in the home
town," Alsgaard said. "Our houses are 200 meters apart and he sends his kids to
Dahlie won the 15K, 50K and team relay golds at Albertville in 1992
and the 10K and 15K again at Lillehammer two years later. Although he won the
10K here for his sixth gold, he finished 20th in the 30K after putting the
wrong wax on his skis.
He still has two chances of achieving that seventh gold and, in one
race, Alsgaard can help him.
Dahlie will be on Norway's 4x10K relay team Wednesday, teaming up
with his rival, and also will line up in the 50K the following Sunday.
"Thinking of the relay," Dahlie said, "I'm glad I have this guy next
to me on the same team."
HAKUBA, Japan (AP) -- Final results Saturday from the men's 15km
cross-country pursuit event a the Winter Olympics:
1, Thomas Alsgaard, Norway, 1 hour, 7 minutes, 1.7 seconds.
2, Bjorn Dahlie, Norway, 1:07:02.8.
3, Vladimir Smirnov, Kazakstan, 1:07:31.5.
4, Silvio Fauner, Italy, 1:07:48.9.
5, Fulvio Valbusa, Italy, 1:07:49.1.
6, Mika Myllylae, Finland, 1:07:50.6.
7, Markus Gandler, Austria, 1:8:14.2.
8, Jari Isometsae, Finland, 1:08:19.4.
9, Sergei Tchepikov, Russia, 1:08:24.3.
10, Niklas Jonsson, Sweden, 1:08:25.7.
11, Achim Walcher, Austria, 1:08:26.9.
12, Andreas Schluetter, Germany, 1:08:32.3.
13, Fabio Maj, Italy, 1:08:55.4.
14, Alois Stadlober, Austria, 1:08:57.1.
15, Jaak Mae, Estonia, 1:09:02.7.
40, Patrick Weaver, Lenox, Mass., 1:12:31.1.
44, Justin Wadsworth, Bend, Ore., 1:12:42.0.
47, John Bauer, Champlin, Minn., 1:12:48.6.
80, Marcus Nash, Fryeburg, Maine, DNS.