OlympicsRacingJan 23&24 – Men's 50K / Women's 30K

FasterSkier FasterSkierFebruary 25, 2003

The following is the last in 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. 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 23rd 2002 Olympic Games Men’s 50 km
Recovering from the first wave of the doping scandal, the second part was just
starting. The race management knew that the SLOC and WADA doping control team
had visited Johan Muhlegg at his condominium late evening the night before the
race. At the blood control station the morning of the race his hemoglobin value
was as close to the maximum allowed level as possible. The media was already
buzzing.

The race went off flawlessly. The milder weather had changed the waxing a bit,
and the Organizer decided to salt the snow in the finish corridor to make sure
the snow stayed firm the last 100 m of the course in front of the bleachers.
Johan Muhlegg skied the fastest time. The Brazilian skier Alexander Penna were
allowed to start even without meeting the perceived standard for an Olympic
Cross-Country competitor, and ended up last, 1 hour 18 minutes behind. The best
American finisher was John Bauer in 34th place, struggling with bad wax, even
after re-waxing during the race. The average speed for the top 5 skiers was
2:33 min per km.

As we all know, Johan Muhlegg lost his Gold medal due to positive doping results
the next day. He was removed from the official result list for the 50-km race.

Ivanov took gold after Muehlegg's DSQ

Feb 24th 2002 Olympic Games Women’s 30 km
The last Cross-Country race of the 2002 Games ended up with very difficult wax
conditions. Snow came late, just before start time, and there was no time for
re-grooming the course. Almost the entire field of skiers ended up racing on
"hairies" or with no-wax competition skis. Italian Gabriella Paruzzi
officially won the tough race, even though Russian Larissa Lazutina started
the race and skied the fastest time. The results from the blood tests taken
3 days earlier from the Russian relay team members came back positive the afternoon
after the 30-km race. Lazutina was notified of this backstage just prior to
the medal ceremony downtown Salt Lake City, and was escorted off stage.

Stephania Belmondo got her second medal of the Games, the silver – and
retired post-season happily after a long and successful career. Nina Kemppel
skied her best race of the Games in 15th place, also a great end to her international
career. The average speed for the top 5 skiers was 3:02 per km.

Lazutina did not look happy -even immediately after posting the fastest 30K
time. Maybe she already knew she'd been busted?

The 2003 Games had ended successfully for the Olympic Organizer and for the
Soldier Hollow venue. The Cross-Country results had been better than ever for
the US Team. The course layout had gotten "best in the World" review,
and the venue was later rewarded "best of Games" by Ski Racing magazine.
The flawless organization and preparation had not gone unnoticed, but neither
had the doping episodes. The mix of success and un-controllable negative situations
left the organization and sport in thoughts for the future.

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