A Look Back At The 2002 Olympics

FasterSkierFebruary 15, 2003

The following is a series of daily event descriptions from the Cross-Country
events at the 2002 Olympic Games, celebrating the first anniversary of the Salt
Lake City Games. We will look back at each race exactly a year after it took place.

For more information or requests for lectures, presentations
of planning and preparation phases, or the "behind the scenes" operations
during the Games, contact John Aalberg at kjaalberg@aol.com

Feb 14th 2002 Olympic Games Men’s 10 + 10 km Pursuit
The first part of the pursuit consisted of a 10-km Classic technique. The second
part, the 10-km Free technique race started about 1:30 hrs after the conclusion
of the first race.

After a week of clear, cold weather, a small amount of snow had accumulated
over night, causing the forerunners to keep skiing the course up until the start
of the race. Johan Muhlegg lead after the Classical race with 13 seconds, while
Kris Freeman and John Bauer were in 18th and 19th place about 50 seconds back.
The average speed for the top 5 skiers was 2:36 min per km.

In the pursuit race, the field was chasing Muhlegg, who seemed unbeatable (and
we later learned why). Muhlegg even crashed going down one of the fastest downhill
on the course, but it did not faze him. The real race was for second place,
where Thomas Ahlsgaard sprinted for silver after having skied up from 16th place.
Ahlsgaard and fellow Norwegian Frode Estil ended up tying for second place –
the first ever medal tie in the history of Olympic Cross-Country. The Olympic
photo finish system takes 1100 pictures per second across the narrow finish
line – which means the two skiers were even to the 1/1000 second (see

Kris Freeman skied up to 15th place, John Bauer finished at 20th. The average
speed for the top 5 fastest free technique skiers were 2:19 per km.

Note that this photo is a compilation of many very narrow, time
elapsed photos taken exactly on the finish line. It is not one simple photo
as you are used to seeing. Every part of the body is shown in the exact position
it was in as it crossed the finish line. This is why the poles seem bent, and
the snow is red. The red is the finish line. Therefore , you can see that, even
though Estil was slightly ahead, Ahlsgaard was able to shoot his foot forward
at exactly the right time for the tie. You can tell that Ahlsgaard's foot was
moving much faster because it appears much shorter in this photo, meaning it
took less time to cross the line.


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