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    Thursday, February 19, 1998

    Tchepalova completes Russian sweep

     HAKUBA, Japan (AP) -- Italy's hopes for a third straight gold medal in the women's 30-kilometer cross-country race were wiped out by Russia. No one should have been surprised.
     The Russian skiers dominated the Nagano Olympics, and completed a first-ever sweep of the five women's events with Yulia Tchepalova's victory Friday (Thursday night EST).
     Tchepalova, an Olympic rookie trained by her father, overcame 1992 gold medalist Stefania Belmondo in the final quarter of the race. She also overcame the sting of being left off the 20K relay.
     "I got a bit cross, but then I thought, 'Who cares about the relay? I'll show them what I can do.' "
     And she did.
     Belmondo looked as though she would make it three straight 30K victories for the Italians when she led for three quarters of the race, which was held in steady rain at Snow Harp.
     But Tchepalova went to the front and opened up a 6.8-second lead with 3.7 kilometers to go. The 21-year-old sports instructor from Komsomolsk, a newcomer to the powerful Russian team, finished in 1 hour, 22 minutes, 01.5 seconds.
     Belmondo finished 10.2 seconds behind Tchepalova, whose teammate Larissa Lazutina won the bronze medal.
     "I was surprised when I was told that the gap (behind Belmondo) was closing with every kilometer," Tchepalova said. "I wanted to win, but I was pretty sure that Stefania was stronger and I was hoping for second.
     "There was a time going up on a long uphill when I thought I wouldn't even make the podium. On the last downhill, they told me that there was a 9-second difference. My dad told me I could do it so I gave it everything."
     Tchepalova turned to her father for instruction after breaking away from national coach Alexander Grushin. Lazutina, winner of three gold medals, one silver and one bronze here, is another Grushin defector.
     Lazutina said her success would not have happened if she had have stayed with Grushin.
     "When I trained with the whole team I at the beginning of the season, I got very poor results," she said. "I know that Grushin didn't believe in me at all."
     Russia's other individual title here went to Olga Danilova, who triumphed in the 15K but finished out of the top 10 Friday.
     Belmondo, whose strong last leg helped win a bronze for Italy in the 20K relay, this time went out too fast. Only Tchepalova was anywhere near her by halfway, 14.2 seconds behind with Lazutina in third.
     The signs that Belmondo was being caught came when her lead was cut to 6.8 by the 22.3K mark. The slight-built Italian was unable to produced her trademark fast finish and the Russian pulled away at the end.

     Cross-Country Skiing Results
     HAKUBA, Japan (AP) -- Final results Friday from the women's 30km cross-country medal event at the Winter Olympics:

     1, Yulia Tchepalova, Russia, 1 hour, 22 minutes, 1.5 seconds.
     2, Stefania Belmondo, Italy, 1:22:11.7.
     3, Larissa Lazutina, Russia, 1:23:15.7.
     4, Elin Nilsen, Norway, 1:24:24.5.
     5, Yelena Vaelbe, Russia, 1:24:52.8.
     6, Maria Theurl, Austria, 1:24:54.3.
     7, Brigitte Albrecht, Switzerland, 1:25:15.0.
     8, Irina Taranenko Terelia, Ukraine, 1:25:22.3.
     9, Marit Mikkelsplass, Norway, 1:25:36.9.
     10, Gabriella Paruzzi, Italy, 1:26:06.0.
     11, Antonina Ordina, Sweden, 1:26:13.8.
     12, Elena Sinkevitch, Belarus, 1:27:15.3.
     13, Olga Danilova, Russia, 1:28:08.1.
     14, Valentyna Shevchenko, Ukraine, 1:28:20.0.
     15, Jaroslava Bukvajova, Slovakia, 1:28:21.0.
     16, Kati Wilhelm, Germany, 1:28:27.7.
     17, Sophie Villeneuve, France, 1:28:57.8.
     18, Natasa Lacen, Slovenia, 1:29:10.4.
     19, Maj Sorkmo, Norway, 1:29:16.9.
     20, Antonella Confortola, Italy, 1:29:31.6.
     21, Svetlana Deshevykh, Kazakstan, 1:29:48.1.
     22, Karine Philippot, France, 1:29:51.6.
     23, Katerina Hanusova, Czech Republic, 1:29:59.9.
     24, Natascia Leonardi, Switzerland, 1:30:31.8.
     25, Alzbeta Havrancikova, Slovakia, 1:30:38.6.
     26, Anke Schulze, Germany, 1:30:54.6.
     27, Elena Gayasova, Ukraine, 1:31:01.0.
     28, Irina Nikoultchina, Bulgaria, 1:31:04.7.
     29, Cristel Vahtra, Estonia, 1:31:09.3.
     30, Svetlana Shishkina, Kazakstan, 1:31:39.7.
     31, Constanze Blum, Germany, 1:31:52.9.
     32, Sumiko Yokoyama, Japan, 1:32:04.3.
     33, Bernadeta Piotrowska, Poland, 1:32:37.6.
     34, Monica Lazarut, Romania, 1:32:41.7.
     35, Zuzana Kocumova, Czech Republic, 1:32:52.1.
     36, Laura Wilson, Ketchum, Idaho, 1:33:10.6.
     37, Anette Fanqvist, Sweden, 1:33:10.7.
     38, Midori Furusawa, Japan, 1:33:16.2.
     39, Kumiko Yokoyama, Japan, 1:33:19.7.
     40, Oxana Yatskaya, Kazakstan, 1:33:23.4.
     41, Kerrin Petty, Townshend, Vt., 1:33:47.3.
     42, Svetlana Kamotskaya, Belarus, 1:33:51.6.
     43, Suzanne King, Minneapolis, 1:34:01.8.
     44, Ludmilla Korolik, Belarus, 1:34:07.5.
     45, Karin Saeterkvist, Sweden, 1:34:15.1.
     46, Kristina Smigun, Estonia, 1:34:18.1.
     47, Irina Skripnik, Belarus, 1:34:38.4.
     48, Onne Kurg, Estonia, 1:34:59.9.
     49, Laura McCabe, Winthrop, Wash., 1:35:09.9.
     50, Milla Jauho, Finland, 1:35:39.2.
     51, Beckie Scott, Canada, 1:35:47.4.
     52, Olga Selezneva, Kazakstan, 1:36:30.6.
     53, Anzela Brice, Latvia, 1:37:08.4.
     54, Sara Renner, Canada, 1:40:14.6.
     55, Kazimiera Stroliene, Lithuania, 1:40:57.9.
     56, Marie-Odile Raymond, Canada, 1:41:07.2.
     57, Inara Rudko, Latvia, 1:43:22.8.
     58, Alla Mikhayelian, Armenia, 1:44:03.6.
     NR, Anita Nyman, Finland, DNS.
     NR, Annick Pierrel, France, DNS.
     NR, Kati Sundqvist, Finland, DNS.
     NR, Jaime Fortier, Canada, DNS.
     NR, Tomomi Otaka, Japan, DNS.
     NR, Trude Dybendahl Hartz, Norway, DNF.
     NR, Karin Moroder, Italy, DNF.
     NR, Dorota Kwasny, Poland, DNF.
     NR, Anna Slipenko, Ukraine, DNF.
     NR, Manuela Henkel, Germany, DNF.