CANOE NAGANO '98 ISP DIRECTORY
Saturday, February 7, 1998
Danilova wins Nagano's first gold
HAKUBA, Japan (AP) -- Persistent underachiever Olga Danilova outclassed
the big names from Norway to finally make a big name for herself as the first
gold medalist of the Nagano Olympics.
The 27-year-old mastered the changing conditions on a tough Snow Harp
course to win the women's 15-kilometer classical cross-country race ahead of
teammate Larissa Lazutina.
Although they had four skiers in the top seven, the Norwegians, who
had been looking at a possible sweep, wound up with just a bronze. Anita Moen
Guidon collapsed over the line in third place.
"It's one of the happiest days of my life," said Danilova, whose only
previous Olympic appearance at Albertville six years ago yielded a best of sixth
place in the 5K.
Breaking into tears, Danilova said she was thinking of her 2-year-old
twin sons Savily and Simeon, back home in Alexandrov.
"I'm happy but especially for my twins," she said. "Right now, I'm
still not aware that I'm the Olympic champion. I guess I need to spend some time
alone to realize what I've done."
Danoliva's was the 99th gold medal won in Winter Games competition by
an athlete from Russia and its two team predecessors, the Soviet Union and the
Unified Team, according to records compiled by the Russian National Olympic
Danilova has spent the last few seasons on Russia's second-string team
after a series of disappointing performances at World Cup level. Although she
has climbed to eighth in this season's World Cup standings, she has failed to
finish higher than third.
Lazutina, who has won two relay golds but just missed out on
individual medals at the last two Olympics, appeared to be the main threat to
the powerful Norwegians.
Going out 20th of the 65 starters, Lazutina was second to Moen-Guidon
at the first timed checkpoint and maintained her speed even though the
conditions changed during the race.
Starting out in bright sunshine, the skiers met colder, cloudier
weather as a snowstorm loomed over the course and, on a wickedly undulating
track, many began to slow down in the second half of the race.
But the two Russians seemed to thrive in the tough conditions and were
the only two gold- and silver-medal contenders from half way, as the Norwegians
Danilova trailed Lazutina by 2.8 seconds at 8.5 kilometers and
gradually cut her lead to a half second by the 13.8-kilometer mark.
Although both skiers had plenty of strength left for a fast finish,
Danilova had the power to clinch the gold.
She completed the distance in 46 minutes, 55.4 seconds with Lazutina,
who won relay golds at the last two Olympics, 5.6 seconds behind.
Moen-Guidon, who placed fourth in the 5k at Lillehammer four years
ago, was third in 47:52.6, ahead of Irina Tarenenko Terelia of Ukraine
"I've been No. 4 often and many times I have been close behind. So I
feel very happy," Moen-Guidon said.
World Cup leader Bente Martinsen, expected to be the leading Norwegian
challenger, finished 1:19 behind the winner and appeared to be close to a medal.
Martinsen, whose father won Olympic gold and silver medals at Grenoble
30 years ago, tied for sixth place with teammate Trude Dybendahl Hartz, who both
were behind another Norwegian, Marit Mikkelsplass, at 48:12.5.
Stefania Belmondo, the 1992 30K gold medalist who also was considered
a leading contender for this race, struggled throughout. She was a minute behind
the leaders soon after halfway and her final time was 48:57.7, in eighth place.
Russia's Yelena Vaelba, who swept five gold medals at the 1997 world
championships after teammate Lyubov Yegorova failed a drug test and was stripped
of the 5K title, finished 17th, 2 1/2 minutes behind the winner.
Kerrin Petty, from Townshend, Vt., was the leading American in 48th
place, one ahead of Suzanne King, of Minneapolis. Petty clocked 52:45.3, 5:49.9
behind the winner, while King had 52:58.9.
Nina Kemppel, from Anchorage, was the third American, in 53rd place
with a time of 53:57.2 and Laura Wilson of Ketchum, Idho, placed 54th in
HAKUBA, Japan (AP) -- Results Sunday from the women's 15km
cross-country medal event at the Winter Olympics:
1, Olga Danilova, Russia, 46 minutes, 55.4 seconds.
2, Larissa Lazutina, Russia, 47:01.0.
3, Anita Moen-Guidon, Norway, 47:52.6.
4, Irina Taranenko Terelia, Ukraine, 48:10.2.
5, Marit Mikkelsplass, Norway, 48:12.5.
6, Trude Dybendahl Hartz, Norway, 48:19.0.
7, Bente Martinsen, Norway, 48:19.0.
8, Stefania Belmondo, Italy, 48:57.7.
9, Katerina Neumanova, Czech Republic, 49:01.9.
10, Jaroslava Bukvajova, Slovakia, 49:02.0.
11, Valentyna Shevchenko, Ukraine, 49:12.9.
12, Tuulikki Pyykkonen, Finland, 49:13.5.
13, Katrin Smigun, Estonia, 49:18.9.
14, Gabriella Paruzzi, Italy, 49:20.7.
15, Elena Sinkevitch, Belarus, 49:20.8.