SLC 2002

Trackside With Nick Grimmer

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Mens 4 by 10 km relay.

This would have had to be the most exciting sporting event I have ever experienced in my life. The excitement began to build driving to Soilder Hollow, traffic was bumper to bumper and the cars filled up a 1 km square parking lot. I have never seen so many people come to watch a XC skiing event, I thought that there must have been a cricket match or something going on as well. There wasn't and on arrival at the course I found over 20,000 pepole had all crowded in to watch what would turn out to be the most exciting event of the games.We found ourselves a nice little spot on the fence across from the finish and just up from the start.

For most of the first leg nothing exciting seemed to happen, everyone was skiing in a group, the leaders were who you expected them to be, the only surprise was the American skier who skied most the way in third place and at one spot even took the lead which sent the crowd into an uproar. At the end of the first leg the Norwegian Aukland had put on a small gap, this was to be maintained through out the second lap. The second lap saw however saw Veerpalu ski a fantastic leg and pull the Estonians from the back of the pack and 40 seconds off the pace up into the top 3 and only 11 seconds of the pace.

The third lap came and by now the top three teams had become pretty clear, it was going to be Norway, Italy and Germany. Norway kept the lead through the third leg and Italy and Germany where second and had put a gap on the rest of the pack. Then the excitement came as Norway tagged off to Alsgaard, Italy to Zorzi. Within 2 km they were neck and neck, the pace was fast as Alsgaard tried to lose Zorzi the sprinter however he soon realised this wasn't to be and slowed right down. On the very last lap the tension began to build, we watched them leave the stadium together for the last time, they reapeared at the top of Soldier Hollow and we followed them down around to the bottom of Muhlegg hill. When they got to the top Zorzi made a move and we thought it was on, they went out of site and we watched for them to come into the stadium, but they didn't, we looked up to the screen and they had both stopped, the entire crowd fell silent, what the hell was happening. Eventually one of them decided to go before the Germans and Austrians caught up, slowly they went in to the stadium past us then around the curve and at last it was on, It was Zorzi, then Alsgaard, then Zorzi and then Alsgaard seemed to have it, Zorzi made a final move but was just the little to slow and like four years ago Alsgard won by a foot. The most exciting finish to any event I have ever seen live.

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