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 Bjorn Daehlie won the 10K race and became the first man to win six career Winter golds.
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Countryman Keeps Daehlie From Seventh Gold

By Robert Millward
Associated Press
Friday, February 13, 1998; 9:08 p.m. EST


Thomas Alsgaard of Norway
Thomas Alsgaard overtook Bjorn Daehlie in the final 100 meters to win the 15-kilometer freestyle pursuit. (Juergen Schwarz/Reuters)

HAKUBA, Japan — The two Norwegians fought stride for stride over the final two-thirds of the cross-country race, one seeking Olympic history and the other trying to prove he could win gold again.

Thomas Alsgaard overtook Bjorn Daehlie in the final 100 meters Saturday to win the 15-kilometer freestyle pursuit, preventing Daehlie from becoming the first winter Olympian to win seven gold medals.

For Daehlie, the loss to his rival seemed to hurt. He briefly congratulated Alsgaard, but there was no hug like the one he gave last-place finisher Phillip Boit of Kenya following the 10-kilometer classical race two days ago.

However, Daehlie still became the winningest man in Winter Olympics history, with six golds and four silvers. That total ties him with Raisa Smetanina of the former Soviet Union for most winter medals.

Daehlie's victory in the 10K, which serves as the first half of the pursuit, gave him a 19.4-second lead over Alsgaard, who was the fifth skier to go off.

Alsgaard made up the deficit in the first 5 kilometers, then stayed on Daehlie's flank the rest of the way. The two looked at times as if they were training together, striding in unison through the Snow Harp course made sloppy by a steady rain.

Daehlie occasionally glanced a peek at Alsgaard, who was content to let his teammate lead — until the finish.

When the two moved into separate lanes near the finish, Alsgaard surged past his teammate and got to the line first, pumping his fists into the air.

Alsgaard finished in 39 minutes 37.7 seconds, giving him a total time of 1 hour, 7 minutes, 1.7 seconds. Daehlie's total was 1:07:02.8 — barely a second behind — and bronze medalist Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakstan finished in 1:07:31.5.

Daehlie won the 15K, 50K and team relay golds at Albertville in 1992 and the 10K and 15K again at Lillehammer two years later. Although he won the 10K here for his sixth gold, he finished 20th in the 30K after putting the wrong wax on his skis.

Alsgaard won the 30K race at Lillehammer four years ago, but lost his title to Mika Myllylae of Finland on Monday.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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