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| Event type

20 kilometres, Men1

Date 9 February 1972 — 09:01-11:16
StatusOlympic
LocationMakomanai Biathlon Site, Sapporo
Participants54 from 14 countries
FormatVariable penalty for each missed target. The target had two circles, an inner and an outer. Shots outside the outer circle brought a two-minute penalty. Shots between the circles brought a one-minute penalty.
Venue detailsCourse Length: ?
Height Differential: 84 m
Maximum Climb: 45 m
Shooting 1: Prone at 3.6 km, 150 m range
Shooting 2: Standing at 8.5 km, 150 m range
Shooting 3: Prone at 12.5 km, 150 m range
Shooting 4: Standing at 17.4 km, 150 m range
Total Climbing: 719 m

Originally scheduled for 8 February, after 35 skiers had started the event was cancelled because of a snow storm, which made the shooting conditions almost impossible, and was re-scheduled for the next day.

Soviet’s Aleksandr Tikhonov had been the dominant biathlete since his silver medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics, winning individual World Championships gold in 1969 and 1970, silver in 1971, and was also a member of the gold winning Soviet relay team all three years. Magnar Solberg, the surprise Olympic gold medalist from 1968, had won individual bronze medals in the World Championships in 1969 and 1971, and silver with the Norwegian relay team in 1969, 1970 and 1971. However, he still had no medals from Norwegian Championships, and the 35-year old policeman from Trondheim showed no signs of Olympic form at the start of the 1972 season, and was not, in fact, originally chosen for the Norwegian team. The selection committee agreed to give him an extra chance, and he again showed that he was made for big occasions.

After the first shooting round Solberg was in the lead with no misses, 22 seconds ahead of the Swede Lars-Göran Arwidson, with Finland’s Yrjö Salpakari third, 10 seconds behind Arwidson. The favorite Tikhonov had three penalty minutes and was far behind. After the second shooting, Arwidson had taken a clear lead with a perfect round with the rifle. A big surprise was the 27-year-old Italian, Willy Bertin, who had started with one penalty minute, but now had a perfect round and climbed to second, 49 seconds behind Arwidson, and closely followed by Salkapari. Solberg had one penalty minute and dropped down to seventh place, 1:35 behind the leader.

After the third round of shooting the situation changed. Bertin had another perfect round and took over the lead, 32 seconds ahead of East Germany’s Hansjörg Knauthe, who had a one minute penalty from the first shooting round but since then had moved steadily up in the rankings. Salkapari was still in third, closely followed by Solberg, moving from seventh to fourth in spite of one additional penalty minute. Arwidson had two penalty minutes and dropped from first to fifth, but only 11 seconds behind the bronze position.

At the final shooting round, Bertin had four penalty minutes and was out of contention for a medal. Both Solberg, Knauthe, Arwidson and Salpakari had perfect shooting series, but Solberg was the fastest skiier and had a seven seconds lead over Knauthe. Arvidsson and Salpakari were 35 and 45 seconds behind, with no chances for gold. At the finish Solberg had extended his lead over Knauthe to 12 seconds and won his second Olympic gold medal, as dominant as he had been in 1968. Arwidson was able to defend his bronze medal position, ahead of fast finishing Tikhonov, who passed Salpakari in the final stages of the race. Finland’s Esko Saira was the fastest skier of the day, but had to be content with sixth place due to five penalty minutes. A few weeks after his second Olympic gold medal, Solberg was finally able to win a national championship gold medal, and after that he left top-sport to pursue a career as a police officer and criminal investigator.

PosNrBiathleteNOCTimePenaltiesSkiing (Pos)
128Magnar SolbergNOR1-15:55.5021-13:55.50 (4)Gold
230Hansjörg KnautheGDR1-16:07.6011-15:07.60 (8)Silver
338Lars-Göran ArwidsonSWE1-16:27.0321-14:27.03 (6)Bronze
429Aleksandr TikhonovURS1-16:48.6541-12:48.65 (2)
59Yrjö SalpakariFIN1-16:51.4321-14:51.43 (7)
640Esko SairaFIN1-17:34.8051-12:34.80 (1)
715Viktor MamatovURS1-18:16.2621-16:16.26 (13)
848Tor SvendsbergetNOR1-18:26.5431-15:26.54 (10)
936Aleksander KlimaPOL1-19:00.8621-17:00.86 (22)
1024Daniel ClaudonFRA1-19:14.6711-18:14.67 (31)
1141Keith OliverGBR1-20:40.3131-17:40.31 (27)
1247Ivan ByakovURS1-20:42.7831-17:42.78 (28)
1326Dieter SpeerGDR1-20:43.6371-13:43.63 (3)
1411Peter KarnsUSA1-20:59.6721-18:59.67 (34)
152Günter BartnikGDR1-21:01.7351-16:01.73 (11)
1619Willy BertinITA1-21:03.0451-16:03.04 (12)
1722Miki ShibuyaJPN1-21:57.2751-16:57.27 (21)
183Kåre HovdaNOR1-22:20.3761-16:20.37 (14)
198Rinnat SafinURS1-22:22.5971-15:22.59 (9)
2052Horst KoschkaGDR1-22:24.5851-17:24.58 (26)
2146Holmfrid OlssonSWE1-22:28.7831-19:28.78 (42)
2237Giovanni AstegianoITA1-22:45.9061-16:45.90 (20)
231Shozo SasakiJPN1-23:05.5451-18:05.54 (30)
2420Dennis DonahueUSA1-23:20.3941-19:20.39 (39)
2531Isao OnoJPN1-23:26.8371-16:26.83 (16)
267Jeffrey StevensGBR1-23:28.9541-19:28.95 (43)
2721Mauri RöppänenFIN1-23:45.8871-16:45.88 (19)
2835Victor FontanaROU1-24:17.8551-19:17.85 (37)
2933Ragnar TveitenNOR1-24:19.9171-17:19.91 (24)
3049Juhani SuutarinenFIN1-24:25.99101-14:25.99 (5)
315Pierantonio ClementiITA1-25:28.7461-19:28.74 (41)
3227Vilmoș GheorgheROU1-25:52.2781-17:52.27 (29)
3310Andrzej RapaczPOL1-26:21.0291-17:21.02 (25)
3442Nicolae VeșteaROU1-27:08.2161-21:08.21 (48)
3525Józef StopkaPOL1-27:18.6681-19:18.66 (38)
3613Ladislav ŽižkaTCH1-27:36.81111-16:36.81 (17)
3739René ArpinFRA1-27:52.6481-19:52.64 (44)
3843Kazuo SasakuboJPN1-28:07.4391-19:07.43 (35)
3916Arnošt HájekTCH1-28:22.3791-19:22.37 (40)
4045Lino JordanITA1-28:26.09121-16:26.09 (15)
4132Terry MorseUSA1-28:40.1471-21:40.14 (50)
4214Olle PetrussonSWE1-28:40.58121-16:40.58 (18)
4318Alan NotleyGBR1-28:48.7271-21:48.72 (51)
4450Stanislav FajstavrTCH1-28:53.3391-19:53.33 (45)
4554Jay BowermanUSA1-29:13.7171-22:13.71 (52)
4623Josef NiedermeierFRG1-29:26.4481-21:26.44 (49)
4734Pavel PlocTCH1-29:38.79111-18:38.79 (32)
4844Andrzej FiedorPOL1-30:17.25111-19:17.25 (36)
4917Torsten WadmanSWE1-30:17.56131-17:17.56 (23)
504Theo MerkelFRG1-30:58.17111-19:58.17 (46)
5153Aimé Gruet-MassonFRA1-33:44.41151-18:44.41 (33)
526Constantin CarabelaROU1-33:45.95111-22:45.95 (53)
5351Malcolm HirstGBR1-34:55.59141-20:55.59 (47)
AC12Paul ChassagneFRA– (–)DNF