Myllylae wins 30-km cross country gold on his day

Mika Myllylae

(Snow Harp, Hakuba Village)
9:00- Start

Finland's Mika Myllylae woke up early Monday to see the snow falling outside. And while another person might roll over and pull up the comforter, he jumped out of bed knowing that it was going to be his day.

The man called ''Karpasi,'' or ''The man living in the woods and picking berries,'' overcame a snowstorm and the demanding Snow Harp cross-country course to win the men's 30-kilometer classical event at the 18th Olympic Winter Games in Nagano.

Myllylae, undaunted by the weather, went out strong on the course in Hakuba and, leading at each checkpoint along the way, won in a time of 1 hour, 33 minutes, 55.8 seconds, defeating his closest rival by more than 90 seconds.

He said later he thought the weather conditions and course worked to his advantage since ''I am not so fast, so it's better to ski for me in very hard tracks and hard and difficult conditions.''

''I (felt) lucky in the morning when I woke up and looked out the window outside. I saw snow falling, so today was for me,'' said the reigning 50-km world champion who won in a heavy rainfall last March in Trondheim, Norway.

Erling Jevne of Norway won the silver medal with a 1:35:27.1 -- one minute and 31.3 seconds behind Myllylae -- and Italy's Silvio Fauner, the winner of two World Cup events on this same course last year, posted 1:36:08.5 for the bronze medal.

Meanwhile, Bjorn Daehlie of Norway, aiming for his sixth Olympic gold medal, struggled with his skis and the course. After winning the silver medal at this distance the last two Olympics, he gave a lackluster performance to finish a distant 20th with a time of 1:40:18.5.

''The course was very tough and it was hard to find the right wax,'' said Daehlie, who told officials after the race that he chose the wrong skis and wax before the race and largely abandoned the race only 8 km into it.

For Japan, three-time Olympic team member Hiroyuki Imai was 24th with 1:40:40.9 and up-and-coming sprinter Katsuhito Ebisawa, who also trains in Finland, 27th in 1:40:48.0.

''The best I've ever done in the two previous Olympics is 20th, so I hope I can do better than that here,'' said Imai, who hails from Shinano, Nagano Prefecture. (Kyodo News)

Official results of cross-country skiing men's 30-kilometer classical Monday in the 18th Olympic Winter Games at Snow Harp, Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture:

1. Mika Myllylae, Finland 1 hour, 33 minutes, 55.8 seconds

2. Erling Jevne, Norway 1:35:27.1

3. Silvio Fauner, Italy 1:36:08.5

4. Jari Isometsae, Finland 1:36:51.4

5. Fulvio Valbusa, Italy 1:37:31.1

6. Harri Kirvesniemi, Finland 1:37:45.9

7. Marco Albarello, Italy 1:38:07.1

8. Giorgio di Centa, Italy 1:38:14.9

9. Wladimir Legotin, Russia 1:38:23.7

10. Per Elofsson, Sweden 1:38:47.0


12. Vladimir Smirnov, Kazakstan 1:38:59.1

13. Pavel Ryabinin, Kazakstan 1:39:31.6

24. Hiroyuki Imai, Japan 1:40:40.9

27. Katsuhito Ebisawa, Japan 1:40:48.0

41. Andrej Nevzorov, Kazakstan 1:42:48.8

42. Kazutoshi Nagahama, Japan 1:42:58.7

50. Vladimir Bortsov, Kazakstan 1:45:12.8

55. Park Byung Chul, South Korea 1:47:41.5

56. Masaaki Kouzu, Japan 1:48:15.3

63. Ahn Jin Soo, South Korea 1:54:12.2

(February 9, 1998)