Gennady Vaganov traveled to Squaw Valley as the third number of the Soviet team, but when the top Soviet skiers, Vladimir Kuzin and Pavel Kolchin, became ill, he started at the Olympics as the top Soviet skier. Vaganov started in all the cross-country races at the 1960 Winter Olympics and finished among the top skiers in those races, but did not win an individual medal. His only medal at that Olympics came in the relay, a bronze. At the 1962 World Championships he again won a bronze in the relay and also repeated that at the 1964 Winter Olympics. Domestically Vaganov was a Soviet Champion eight times, winning the 15 km in 1960, 1962 and 1964 and the relay in 1960 and 1962-65. In 1961 he also won all five cross-country events at the Soviet Army Championships, a feat still not repeated. After his competitive career ended, Vaganov worked as a cross-country skiing coach.