Cross Country Skiing at the 2002 Winter Olympics

Dates 9 – 24 February 2002
Medal Events 12

The 2002 cross-country events were conducted in Soldier Hollow, a specially constructed Nordic ski center in Wasatch Mountain State Park, in Wasatch County, near Heber, Utah, a little southeast of Salt Lake City. There was one major and a few minor changes to the program. The cross-country program added a sprint event of approximately 1,500 metres. It was skied with a qualifying round, with the top 16 skiers advancing to match racing. The match races consist of heats of four skiers each, with two skiers advancing in each round, until a final round of four skiers determines the medals, and one unfortunate fourth-place finisher. As in 1994 and 1998, the middle- and long-distance individual races flipped styles, with the middle-distance (15 km for women, 30 km for men) freestyle in Salt Lake City, and the long-distance races (30 km for women, 50 km for men) skiied classically. But there was another minor change. The middle-distance freestyle race was changed to a mass start event for both men and women.

Three female skiers performed the unusual feat of winning a full set of medals in Salt Lake City, one gold, one silver, and one bronze. This was done by Italy’s Stefania Belmondo, Norway’s Bente Skari-Martinsen, and Russia’s Yuliya Chepalova, with Belmondo and Chepalova winning all theirs in individual events.

But the big story of Salt Lake City was the performance of German émigré Johann Mühlegg, now competing for Spain. A useful skier who had competed at the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics, but had never medaled, Mühlegg obtained a Spanish passport in 1999 and now competed for that country. He was impressive in Salt Lake City, winning the 30 km, 50 km, and pursuit races, until his doping screen turned up traces of darbopoietin, an erythropoietin analogue used to boost blood cell volume and oxygen carrying capacity. When his doping results from the 30 km and pursuit were discovered, shortly after the 50 km, he was immediately disqualified from that event, but his gold medals in the two earlier competitions were allowed to stand. It was not until December 2003 that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that Mühlegg should also be disqualified from these events and return his gold medals.

Another doping scandal occurred in Salt Lake City involving the Austrian cross-country skiers. After the Winter Olympics, intravenous set-ups and discarded blood bags were found in their quarters. Eventually six of the Austrian skiers were banned from the Olympics for life, and disqualified from the 2002 Winter Olympics.


Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Sprint (Freestyle), Men Olympic 19 February 2002 71 36
15 kilometres (Classical), Men Olympic 12 February 2002 67 26
30 kilometres (Mass Start, Freestyle), Men Olympic 9 February 2002 78 32
50 kilometres (Classical), Men Olympic 23 February 2002 61 24
10/10 kilometres Pursuit, Men Olympic 14 February 2002 83 36
4 × 10 kilometres Relay, Men Olympic 17 February 2002 60 15
Sprint (Freestyle), Women Olympic 19 February 2002 58 24
10 kilometres (Classical), Women Olympic 12 February 2002 61 23
15 kilometres (Mass Start, Freestyle), Women Olympic 9 February 2002 60 23
30 kilometres (Classical), Women Olympic 24 February 2002 50 17
5/5 kilometres Pursuit, Women Olympic 15 February 2002 73 27
4 × 5 kilometres Relay, Women Olympic 21 February 2002 52 13
260 (153/107) 44 (44/29)


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Sprint, Men Tor-Arne HetlandNOR Peter SchlickenriederGER Cristian ZorziITA
15 kilometres, Men Andrus VeerpaluEST Frode EstilNOR Jaak MaeEST
30 kilometres, Men Christian HoffmannAUT Mikhail BotvinovAUT Kristen SkjeldalNOR
50 kilometres, Men Mikhail IvanovRUS Andrus VeerpaluEST Odd-Bjørn HjelmesetNOR
10/10 kilometres Pursuit, Men Frode Estil
Thomas Alsgaard
Per ElofssonSWE
4 × 10 kilometres Relay, Men NorwayNOR ItalyITA GermanyGER
Sprint, Women Yuliya ChepalovaRUS Evi SachenbacherGER Anita MoenNOR
10 kilometres, Women Bente SkariNOR Yuliya ChepalovaRUS Stefania BelmondoITA
15 kilometres, Women Stefania BelmondoITA Kateřina NeumannováCZE Yuliya ChepalovaRUS
30 kilometres, Women Gabriella ParuzziITA Stefania BelmondoITA Bente SkariNOR
5/5 kilometres Pursuit, Women Beckie ScottCAN Kateřina NeumannováCZE Viola BauerGER
4 × 5 kilometres Relay, Women GermanyGER NorwayNOR SwitzerlandSUI

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Norway NOR 5 2 4 11
Italy ITA 2 2 2 6
Russian Federation RUS 2 1 1 4
Germany GER 1 2 2 5
Estonia EST 1 1 1 3
Austria AUT 1 1 0 2
Canada CAN 1 0 0 1
Czechia CZE 0 2 0 2
Sweden SWE 0 0 1 1
Switzerland SUI 0 0 1 1