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    Monday, February 9, 1998

    Myllylae wins men's 30 km gold medal

     HAKUBA, Japan(AP) -- They call him "Karpasi", the man who lives in the woods and picks up berries.
     Now Mika Myllylae is an Olympic champion, thanks in part to his special high-altitude training and a strategic mistake by Norway's Bjorn Dahle, the best cross-country skier in the world, over his choice of ski wax.
     The 28-year-old Finn, one of a team who benefit from the altitude training, powered to a spectacular victory in the 30-kilometer classical race Monday (Sunday night EST). He won by nearly a minute and a half over one of the toughest Olympic courses ever.
     Meanwhile, Dahlie struggled with sticky skis and finished in 20th, 6 1/2 minutes behind.
     "I felt very lonely out there in the woods," said Dahlie, who needs one more gold medal to set a Winter Olympics record of six for men's events. "I didn't see any spectators and I was wondering if these were really the Olympics.
     "We had a lot of problems with the skis. After about 8-9 kilometers, I realized I had the wrong pair and I just slogged through the race because I just didn't want to quit."
     Norway's Erling Jevne won his first Olympic medal by placing second, 1 minute, 31.3 seconds behind. Silvio Fauner, a member of the Italian team that won the 1994 relay gold medal at Lillehammer, won the bronze in 1:36:08.5.
     Fauner's bronze was reward for a comeback after breaking his left collarbone falling off a mountain bike at the end of September.
     The top American finisher was Justin Wadsworth of Bend, Ore., who was 37th in 1:42:21.1.
     Dahlie was not the only highly regarded skier to struggle. Defending champion Thomas Alsgaard and Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakstan also were unable to master the conditions on the Snow Harp course.
     Smirnov, winner of the 50K gold at Lillehammer, never got close to the lead and placed 12th, more than five minutes behind the winner. Alsgaard, who also never got close to the leaders, dropped out soon after halfway while in 50th place.
     His departure, and the poor performance by Dahlie, prompted Finnish delegation chief Tapani Ilkka to comment on the Norwegian's waxing errors.
     "Normally they are very good in waxing," he said. "The conditions were exceptionally difficult. I was at one point at the 5K mark and I could see they had no chance in the competition. The skis were so sticky with no glide at all."
     The snow had been falling for 18 hours, covering the course with a fresh covering of 18 inches, to make an already difficult course even tougher.
     Myllylae didn't wait long before making a move that virtually killed off the opposition a third of the way into the race.
     Although the snow fell persistently, it was not billowing around the course and the Finn was able to measure his bursts of speed to open a 52-second lead by the 12.3-meter mark. By 15K, he had stretched that to 1:15.2 and the race was as good as over.
     Myllylae, who became a national hero when he won the 50K event at last year's World Championship at Trondheim, Norway, grabbed a Finnish flag in the home straight and held it between his teeth as he crossed the line in 1 hour, 33 minutes, 55.8 seconds.
     "This has been my goal all my life and I always believed in myself," said Myllylae, winner of Finland's first Olympic men's cross-country gold since 1964.
     "Conditions were very hard and the track is one of the toughest I've seen in years. This 30K was like a 50K in easier conditions. But I like hard conditions.
     "It was a perfect day for me."

     Cross-Country Skiing Results
     HAKUBA, Japan (AP) -- Results Monday from men's 30km cross-country classical medal event at the Winter Olympics:

     1, Mika Myllylae, Finland, 1 hour, 33 minutes, 55.8 seconds.
     2, Erling Jevne, Norway, 1:35:27.1.
     3, Silvio Fauner, Italy, 1:36:08.5.
     4, Jari Isometsae, Finland, 1:36:51.4.
     5, Fulvio Valbusa, Italy, 1:37:31.1.
     6, Harri Kirvesniemi, Finland, 1:37:45.9.
     7, Marco Albarello, Italy, 1:38:07.1.
     8, Giorgio Di Centa, Italy, 1:38:14.9.
     9, Vladimir Legotin, Russia, 1:38:23.7.
     10, Per Elofsson, Sweden, 1:38:47.0.
     11, Jaak Mae, Estonia, 1:38:52.3.
     12, Vladimir Smirnov, Kazakstan, 1:38:59.1.
     13, Pavel Ryabinin, Kazakstan, 1:39:31.6.
     14, Stefan Kunz, Liechtenstein, 1:39:33.3.
     15, Sture Sivertsen, Norway, 1:39:44.9.
    16. Jeremias Wigger, Switzerland, 1:39:46.4; 17. Raul Olle, Estonia, 1:40:03.5; 18. Alexej Tregobov, Belarus, 1:40:05.9; 19. Andrus Veerpalu, Estonia, 1:40:09.9; 20. Bjoern Daehlie, Norway, 1:40:18.5.
     21. Andreas Schluetter, Germany, 1:40:27.1; 22. Jiri Magal, Czech Republic, 1:40:29.6; 23. Anders Bergstroem, Sweden, 1:40:30.8; 24. Hiroyuki Imai, Japan, 1:40:40.9; 25. Henrik Forsberg, Sweden, 1:40:44.1; 26. Ivan Batory, Slovakia, 1:40:47.8; 27. Katsuhito Ebisawa, Japan, 1:40:48.0; 28. Martin Bajcicak, Slovakia, 1:40:52.5; 29. Mykhailo Artiukhov, Ukraine, 1:41:13.0; 30. Ricardas Panavas, Lithuania, 1:41:15.6.
     31. Alexandre Kravchenko, Russia, 1:41:22.3; 32. Sergej Tchepikov, Russia, 1:41:59.9; 33. Lukas Bauer, Czech Republic, 1:42:08.8; 34. Sami Repo, Finland, 1:42:16.8; 35. Markus Hasler, Liechtenstein, 1:42:17.4; 36. Sergei Dolidovich, Belarus, 1:42:18.7; 37. Justin Wadsworth, U.S., 1:42:21.1; 38. Gennadi Nikon, Ukraine, 1:42:32.7; 39. Maxim Pitchugin, Russia, 1:42:41.7; 40. Alexander Sannikov, Belarus, 1:42:48.0.
     41. Andrej Nevzorov, Kazakhstan, 1:42:48.8; 42. Kazutoshi Nagahama, Japan, 1:42:58.7; 43. Gerhard Urain, Austria, 1:43:22.9; 44. Aleksander Zarovnyi, Ukraine, 1:43:26.2; 45. Zsolt Antal, Romania, 1:43:56.6; 46. Stanislav Jezik, Slovakia, 1:44:01.0; 47. John Bauer, U.S., 1:44:15.3; 48. Aleksander Ushkalenko, Ukraine, 1:44:15.7; 49. Marcus Nash, U.S., 1:44:37.7; 50. Vladimir Bortsov, Kazakhstan, 1:45:12.8.
     51. Anthony Evans, Australia, 1:45:26.3; 52. Meelis Aasmae, Estonia, 1:46:08.8; 53. Beat Koch, Switzerland, 1:46:38.3; 54. Nikolai Semeniako, Belarus, 1:47:32.5; 55. Park Byung-chul, South Korea, 1:47:41.5; 56. Masaaki Kouzu, Japan, 1:48:15.3; 57. Torald Rein, Germany, 1:49:06.7; 58. Michael Binzer, Denmark, 1:49:42.2; 59. Ivan Hudac, Slovakia, 1:50:11.6; 60. Slavtscho Batinkov, Bulgaria, 1:50:35.0.
     61. Donald Farley, Lorraine, Que., 1:50:47.8; 62. Robin McKeever, Calgary, 1:51:23.5; 63. Ahn Jin-soo, South Korea, 1:54:12.2; 64. Guido Visser, Bromont, Que., 1:55:04.1; 65. Rene Sommerfeldt, Germany, DNS; 66. Lars Haland, Sweden, DNS; 66. Antonijo Racki, Croatia, DNS; 67. Patrick Weaver, U.S., DNF; 68. Janis Hermanis, Latvia, DNF; 69. Vladislavas Zybailo, Lithuania, DNF; 70. Jintao Wu, China, DNF; 71. Jochen Behle, Germany, DNF; 72. Patrick Remy, France, DNF; 73. Thomas Alsgaard, Norway, DNF; 74. Lubomir Buchta, Czech Republic, DNF.