Johnson 34th in Men's 50K
PRAGELATO, Italy (Feb. 26) – Italy’s Giorgio DiCenta provided a dramatic finale to the Olympic cross country races Sunday, winning gold in the inaugural 50K freestyle mass start event. Two-time Olympian Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT) had the top U.S. result, finishing 34th on the final day of Olympic Winter Games XX.
DiCenta, who was part of Italy’s gold-medal relay team earlier in the Games, had a winning time of 2:06.11.8 with Russian Eugeni Dementiev the silver medalist in 2:06.12.6 and Austrian Mikhail Botvinov taking the bronze.
Johnson finished in 2:07.56.3 while Kris Freeman (ANdover, NH) was 61st. Carl Swenson (Park City, UT), who had been troubled earlier in the Olympics with a nagging chest cold, and James Southam (Anchorage, AK) failed to finish.
“I'm not pleased with the placing – I'd have liked to be a little higher,â€ Johnson said, â€œbut I'm pleased with my time. My plan was to push from the start, get into the lead pack – I knew there'd be one – and stay there…
â€œIf one of us couldn't do, I'm glad an Italian won. They're good guys and they're easy to root for.”
Head Coach Trond Nystad added, â€œAJ had a good race and the other guys didn't. So, the end of the Olympics was as frustrating as the start. We had some good high points – Andy [Newell – Shaftsbury, VT] and Kikkan [Randall – Anchorage, AK] in the sprints, Chris Cook [Rhinelander, WI], too…and Sarah Konrad [Laramie, WY] had a strong women's 30K [32nd place].
â€œEveryone gave their best effort, no question – and the support staff was outstanding, I thought,â€ Nystad said, â€œbut we've got work to do, and now we've got more work to do on the World Cup. There are still a few weeks to go there [Scandinavia and then China and Japan] before the season's over, and we'll have extra skiers racing there, getting some experience.”
The World Cup resumes March 5 in Sweden as the schedule takes its traditional March swing through Scandinavia before finishing with the first World Cup races – sprints March 15 in Changchun – in China and races March 18-19 in Sapporo, Japan, which will host the 2007 World Nordic Ski Championships.
XX OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
Pragelato, ITA – Feb. 26, 2006
Cross Country Men’s 50K FR Mass start
1. Giorgio DiCenta, Italy, 2:06.11.8
2. Eugeni Dementiev, Russia, 2:06.12.6
3. Mikhail Botvinov, Austria, 2:06.12.7
4. Emmanuel Jonnier, France, 2:06.13.5
5. Pietro Piller Cottrer, Italy, 2:06.14.0
34. Andrew Johnson, Greensboro, Vt., 2:07.56.3
61. Kris Freeman, Andover, N.H., 2:15.32.6
Did not finish:
Carl Swenson, Park City, Utah
James Southam, Anchorage, Alaska
Source: US Ski Team