| Event type

50 kilometres, Men

Date23 February 1980 — 8:30
LocationMt. Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area, Lake Placid
Participants43 from 14 countries
DetailsCourse Length: ?
Height Differential: 124 m
Intermediate 1: 12.5 km
Intermediate 2: 17.0 km
Intermediate 3: 25.0 km
Intermediate 4: 42.0 km
Maximum Climb: 51 m
Total Climbing: 1,428 m

Soviet fielded a strong team for the last cross-country event of the 1980 Winter Olympics, the 50 km race. Both Sergey Savelyev, gold medalist in 30 km in both the 1976 Winter Olympics and the 1978 World Championships, and Nikolay Zimyatov, newly crowned Olympic gold medalist from the 30 km race nine days earlier, were among the favorites, together with another Soviet skier, Yevgeny Belyayev, silver medalist at the distance in the 1978 World Championships. Their most dangerous rival was expected to be Sven-Åke Lundbäck from Sweden, the reigning World Champion. Finland’s Juha Mieto was not considered a long distance specialist. His first place at the 1973 Holmenkollen in the 50 km was his only major victory at the distance, but he had shown great form and had to be considered. Norway’s defending Olympic Champion Ivar Formo had quit top-level sport at the age of 26 after the 1978 season to give priority to his engineering studies, leaving Norway’s hopes to Lars Erik Eriksen, fifth in the 1978 World Championships, and Oddvar Brå, a gifted skier who had a tendency to disappoint at the big events.

At the first intermediate time at 12.5 km, the fourth and least known skier on the Soviet team, the 24-year old Moscow-born Aleksandr Zavyalov, had taken a clear lead, almost half a minute ahead of Savelyev. With Zimyatov in fourth and Belyayev in fifth place, it looked very promising for the Soviet skiers. At 17 km Zavyalov was still leading, now with Zimyatov second, 33 seconds behind. Jean-Pierre Pierrat, a 27-year old Frenchman who had taken the bronze medal at the distance in the 1978 World Championships, had moved up from 13th to third. Pierrat was a respected marathon skier, winning France’s first ever Nordic skiing medal, and had also won the prestigious Vasaloppet in 1978. At the halfway point the brave Zavyalov was still in the lead, but now Zimyatov was only three seconds behind. They were already in a class of their own. The skier in third place, Finland’s Asko Autio, was 1:17 behind. Savelyev was still fourth, Pierrat now dropping down to sixth. At 42 km, Zimyatov had made his move, taking the lead from his struggling teammate Zavyalov and building up a one and a half minute lead. Skiing fastest of all behind Zimyatov, Juha Mieto had advanced from eighth to third, 40 seconds behind Zayvalov and 40 seconds ahead of Savelyev, still in fourth position. Eriksen had moved up to fifth, only 18 seconds behind. Autio had lost two minutes to his closest rival and had dropped to seventh, and Pierrat was also fading.

In the final part of the race Zimyatov extended his lead in a most impressive way, winning his third gold medal at Lake Placid by a margin of almost three minutes. Juha Mieto skied a well-judged race and took another silver medal ahead of Zavyalov, who struggled at the end but was able to edge out Eriksen by 1.5 seconds for the bronze. With Salvelyev and Belyayev in fifth and sixth place it was a triumphant day for the Soviet skiers. Brå and Lundbäck gave away too much in the first half of the race, but finished decently as seventh and eighth. With his Olympic victory over 50 km, Nikolay Zimyatov was definitively the king of cross-country skiing at the 1980 Winter Games, winning three out of a possible four gold medals.

141Nikolay ZimyatovURS2-27:24.60Gold
238Juha MietoFIN2-30:20.52Silver
314Aleksandr ZavyalovURS2-30:51.52Bronze
447Lars Erik EriksenNOR2-30:53.03
56Sergey SavelyevURS2-31:15.82
628Yevgeny BelyayevURS2-31:21.19
720Oddvar BråNOR2-31:46.83
836Sven-Åke LundbäckSWE2-31:59.65
921Asko AutioFIN2-32:25.57
1018Franz RenggliSUI2-33:27.56
1133Matti PitkänenFIN2-34:09.04
1240Jean-Paul PierratFRA2-34:13.07
1337Bill KochUSA2-34:31.62
1410Heinz GählerSUI2-35:11.20
152Anders BakkenNOR2-35:33.26
168Thomas ErikssonSWE2-36:33.85
1742Józef ŁuszczekPOL2-36:38.05
185Pertti TeurajärviFIN2-36:44.08
1922Giulio CapitanioITA2-37:01.40
2023Jim GalanesUSA2-37:09.64
2112Peter ZipfelFRG2-37:09.74
2246Dieter NotzFRG2-37:47.41
2344Jiří BeranTCH2-37:51.58
2432Kjell Jakob SollieNOR2-38:06.07
2539Roberto PrimusITA2-38:10.10
2624Alf-Gerd DeckertGDR2-38:13.53
2717František ŠimonTCH2-39:53.03
284Franz SchöbelFRG2-40:25.96
2930Josef SchneiderFRG2-40:49.68
3026Jiří ŠvubTCH2-40:53.94
3111Michel ThierryFRA2-41:38.26
321Gianfranco PolvaraITA2-41:51.58
3327Stan DunkleeUSA2-42:20.20
3435Erik GustavssonSWE2-43:39.93
3529Paul FargeixFRA2-45:39.70
3619Luvsandashiin DorjMGL2-48:22.97
3734Shiro SatoJPN2-48:33.02
DNF7Philippe PoirotFRA
DNF9Doug PetersonUSA
DNF31Maurilio De ZoltITA
DNF15Stig JäderSWE
DNF25Gaudenz AmbühlSUI
DNF45Konrad HallenbarterSUI
DNS43Hristo BarzanovBUL
DNS3Þröstur JóhannessonISL
DNS16Haukur SigurðssonISL
DNS13Tone ĐurišičYUG