| Event type

4 × 10 kilometres Relay, Men

Date22 February 1994 — 10:30
LocationBirkebeineren Skistadion, Lillehammer
Participants56 from 14 countries
DetailsCourse Length: ?
Height Differential: 66 m / 68 m
Maximum Climb: 45 m / 51 m
Total Climbing: 419 m / 398 m

In 1992 Norway had won the gold medal in the relay, defeating Italy fairly easily. Norway had also been World Champion in 1991 and 1993, with Italy second in 1993. The 1994 relay would take place in and around the Birkerbeineren Stadium and over 150,000 ski-crazy Norwegians came to watch the spectacle, expecting to root their boys on to another gold medal. Italy had different plans. There were 14 teams in the race, but seemingly only Norway and Italy mattered, although Finland would put on a brave struggle and stay with the two leaders for 3½ legs.

On the opening leg, Sture Sivertsen put Norway slightly in the lead with Finland second and Italy third, almost 10 seconds back. But the second runner for Italy was Marco Albarello, who had won a bronze medal in the individual 10 km. Albarello faced Norway’s Vegard Ulvang, a Norwegian ski hero, but one who was struggling in Lillehammer, as it came a few months after the death of his brother in a ski accident. Ulvang, who had missed weeks of training searching for his lost brother, could not match the Italian and at the second exchange, Italy led, with Norway second and Finland third, although only 1.1 seconds separated the leaders. The medals were decided as Russia was in fourth, almost 1½ minutes behind.

The third leg skiers were Thomas Alsgaard for Norway, already winner of the 30 km, Giorgio Vanzetta for Italy, and Jari Räsänen for Finland. Räsänen hadn’t been told that the race was supposed to be between Norway and Italy, as he skied the fastest third leg and put Finland into the lead at the anchor exchange. Italy was second and Norway third, but again, only 1.1 seconds separated the three teams. On the final leg Finland would drop back, unable to keep pace with Bjørn Dæhlie for Norway and Silvio Fauner for Italy. Fauner skied on Dæhlie’s back throughout most of the 10 km leg, refusing to take the lead, even when Dæhlie almost stopped, trying to force Fauner to go ahead, in accord with skiing traditions. But Fauner refused to set the pace, leading Alsgaard to later comment, “We hate them for that.” On the final turn into Birkerbeineren Stadium, Fauner moved just ahead of Dæhlie. The 150,000 Norwegians were screaming, and cowbells were ablazing, but as Dæhlie made his move 100 metres from the line, Fauner matched it and Italy won by 4/10ths of a second in the greatest ever ski race.

It is said that the Italians celebrated for two months over their victory, while all Norway mourned. In 1998, Norway and Italy would go at it again, this time Norway winning by an even closer margin, 2/10ths of a second. In 2002, the result was the same – Norway 1, Italy 2 – with the margin still only 3/10ths of a second. Over three Winter Olympics, the two teams would race 120 kilometres, with the total winning margin less than a second, and Norway ahead in cumulative time by 0.1 seconds. But they had lost the one they really wanted, on their home snow, in their hallowed ski stadium, and it would always hurt. It has been called “The Great Race,” and if you mention just that to a Nordic skiing fan, preferably not a Norwegian, they will know what you mean.

12ItalyITA1-41:15.0– (–)Gold
Lead-Off2-1Maurilio De Zolt 26:13.026:13.0 (3)
2nd Leg2-2Marco Albarello 25:53.952:06.9 (1)
3rd Leg2-3Giorgio Vanzetta 24:59.11-17:06.0 (2)
Anchor2-4Silvio Fauner 24:09.01-41:15.0 (1)
21NorwayNOR1-41:15.4– (–)Silver
Lead-Off1-1Sture Sivertsen 26:03.226:03.2 (1)
2nd Leg1-2Vegard Ulvang 26:04.252:07.4 (2)
3rd Leg1-3Thomas Alsgaard 24:59.21-17:06.6 (3)
Anchor1-4Bjørn Dæhlie 24:08.81-41:15.4 (2)
34FinlandFIN1-42:15.6– (–)Bronze
Lead-Off4-1Mika Myllylä 26:03.626:03.6 (2)
2nd Leg4-2Harri Kirvesniemi 26:04.452:08.0 (3)
3rd Leg4-3Jari Räsänen 24:57.51-17:05.5 (1)
Anchor4-4Jari Isometsä 25:10.11-42:15.6 (3)
45GermanyGER1-44:26.7– (–)
Lead-Off5-1Torald Rein 27:08.627:08.6 (6)
2nd Leg5-2Jochen Behle 26:37.153:45.7 (5)
3rd Leg5-3Peter Schlickenrieder 25:40.31-19:26.0 (4)
Anchor5-4Johann Mühlegg 25:00.71-44:26.7 (4)
53Russian FederationRUS1-44:29.2– (–)
Lead-Off3-1Andrey Kirillov 27:10.727:10.7 (9)
2nd Leg3-2Aleksey Prokurorov 26:23.453:34.1 (4)
3rd Leg3-3Gennady Lazutin 25:53.61-19:27.7 (6)
Anchor3-4Mikhail Botvinov 25:01.51-44:29.2 (5)
66SwedenSWE1-45:22.7– (–)
Lead-Off6-1Jan Ottosson 26:56.826:56.8 (4)
2nd Leg6-2Christer Majbäck 26:53.253:50.0 (6)
3rd Leg6-3Anders Bergström 25:36.81-19:26.8 (5)
Anchor6-4Henrik Forsberg 25:55.91-45:22.7 (6)
79SwitzerlandSUI1-47:12.2– (–)
Lead-Off9-1Jeremias Wigger 27:03.727:03.7 (5)
2nd Leg9-2Hans Diethelm 27:45.954:49.6 (7)
3rd Leg9-3Jürg Capol 26:35.81-21:25.4 (7)
Anchor9-4Giachem Guidon 25:46.81-47:12.2 (7)
88Czech RepublicCZE1-47:12.6– (–)
Lead-Off8-1Luboš Buchta 27:10.027:10.0 (8)
2nd Leg8-2Václav Korunka 28:55.456:05.4 (9)
3rd Leg8-3Jiří Teplý 25:41.21-21:46.6 (10)
Anchor8-4Pavel Benc 25:26.01-47:12.6 (8)
913KazakhstanKAZ1-47:41.3– (–)
Lead-Off13-1Nikolay Ivanov 27:09.227:09.2 (7)
2nd Leg13-2Pavel Korolyov 27:41.254:50.4 (8)
3rd Leg13-3Andrey Nevzorov 26:54.81-21:45.2 (8)
Anchor13-4Pavel Ryabinin 25:56.11-47:41.3 (9)
1010FranceFRA1-48:25.1– (–)
Lead-Off10-1Philippe Sanchez 28:52.028:52.0 (13)
2nd Leg10-2Patrick Remy 27:44.356:36.3 (12)
3rd Leg10-3Hervé Balland 25:45.11-22:21.4 (11)
Anchor10-4Stéphane Azambre 26:03.71-48:25.1 (10)
1114EstoniaEST1-48:57.6– (–)
Lead-Off14-1Jaak Mae 28:10.428:10.4 (11)
2nd Leg14-2Jaanus Teppan 27:56.656:07.0 (10)
3rd Leg14-3Elmo Kassin 25:39.01-21:46.0 (9)
Anchor14-4Taivo Kuus 27:11.61-48:57.6 (11)
127BelarusBLR1-49:23.7– (–)
Lead-Off7-1Ihar Obukhou 29:08.529:08.5 (14)
2nd Leg7-2Viktar Kamotski 27:28.856:37.3 (13)
3rd Leg7-3Siarhei Dalidovich 27:08.61-23:45.9 (14)
Anchor7-4Viachaslau Plaksunou 25:37.81-49:23.7 (12)
1312United StatesUSA1-49:40.5– (–)
Lead-Off12-1John Aalberg 28:09.828:09.8 (10)
2nd Leg12-2Ben Husaby 28:20.656:30.4 (11)
3rd Leg12-3Todd Boonstra 27:01.61-23:32.0 (13)
Anchor12-4Luke Bodensteiner 26:08.51-49:40.5 (13)
1411JapanJPN1-49:42.1– (–)
Lead-Off11-1Hiroyuki Imai 28:43.228:43.2 (12)
2nd Leg11-2Kazutoshi Nagahama 28:12.656:55.8 (14)
3rd Leg11-3Kazunari Sasaki 26:13.61-23:09.4 (12)
Anchor11-4Masaaki Kozu 26:32.71-49:42.1 (14)