Saturday, February 22, 2014

OLYMPICS, DAY 15: The Cross-Country Marathon

During my coverage of London 2012, I brought up the subject of the marathon, the most iconic event of the Summer Olympics. The men's edition is traditionally saved for the last day of the Games, and if possible, it's made the last event period. (It wasn't in London; as it happened, the last gold medal was handed out in the men's modern pentathlon.) Last or not, the men's marathon is elevated to a spot where the medal ceremony for it is conducted during the Closing Ceremony.

For the Winter Olympics, the last event is, at least in Vancouver and Sochi, the men's hockey final, but that event's medal ceremony is done right there on the ice. The Closing Ceremony saves itself for the winter equivalent of the men's marathon, the men's 50-kilometer in cross-country skiing. The women go the previous day in a 30-kilometer race.

In London, what I did was note that the marathon is a damn difficult event, as anyone who's tried to run one, or even been scared off of running one, will attest. The Olympics, as I've said over and over, are not just about the medals. They're about the participation. And completing the Olympic marathon is a hell of an achievement no matter where you fall in the rankings. So two years ago, I named the last people to finish the race in both the men's and women's editions, along with how many people proved unable to complete the course in each instance.

Today, I present the cross-country equivalents. We'll begin with the women, who competed today.

Albertville 1992- Ines Alder, Argentina, 1:50:50.6 (55th place, 2 DNF's)
Lillehammer 1994- Suzanne King, United States, 1:45:27.9 (51st place, 2 DNF's, 2 DNS's)
Nagano 1998- Alla Mikayelyan, Armenia, 1:44:03.6 (58th place, 5 DNF's, 5 DNS's)
Salt Lake City 2002- Tomomi Otaka, Japan, 1:50:00.3 (43rd place, 5 DNF's, 2 DQ's)
Torino 2006- Monika Gyorgy, Romania, 1:35:25.4 (50th place, 11 DNF's, 1 DNS)
Vancouver 2010- Eva Skalnikova, Czech Republic, 1:44:47.8 (47th place, 5 DNF's, 2 DNS's, 1 DQ)
Sochi 2014- Aimee Watson, Australia, 1:34:00.1 (54th place, 3 DNF's)

Chamonix 1924- Szczepan Witkowski, Poland, 6:25:58 (21st place, 12 DNF's, 10 DNS's)
St. Moritz 1928- Stane Bervar, Yugoslavia, 6:46:48 (30th place, 11 DNF's, 1 DNS)
Lake Placid 1932- Robert Reid Sr., United States, 5:26:06 (20th place, 12 DNF's, 18 DNS's)
Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936- Tadao Okayama, Japan, 4:30:28 (34th place, 2 DNF's, 9 DNS's)
St. Moritz 1948- Jaroslav Zajicek, Czechoslovakia, 4:44:35 (20th place, 8 DNF's, 2 DNS's)
Oslo 1952- Matthias Kristjansson, Iceland, 3:55:50 (33rd place, 3 DNF's)
Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956- Richard Aylmer, Great Britain, 4:11:40 (30th place, 3 DQ's)
Squaw Valley 1960- Theodore Farwell Jr., United States, 3:49:56.6 (31st place, 8 DNS's)
Innsbruck 1964- Hidezo Takahashi, Japan, 3:14:31.4 (35th place, 6 DNF's, 1 DNS)
Grenoble 1968- Yun Jong-Im, South Korea, 3:27:22.5 (47th place, 4 DNF's, 9 DNS's)
Sapporo 1972- Bob Gray, United States, 3:01:15.37 (33rd place, 7 DNF's, 1 DNS)
Innsbruck 1976- Maksi Jelenc, Yugoslavia, 3:05:05.94 (44th place, 15 DNF's)
Lake Placid 1980- Shiro Sato, Japan, 2:48:33.2 (37th place, 6 DNF's, 4 DNS's)
Sarajevo 1984- Ricardo Holler, Argentina, 3:05:41.2 (50th place, 4 DNF's, 2 DNS's)
Calgary 1988- Roberto Alvarez, Mexico, 3:22:25.1 (61st place, 9 DNF's, 4 DNS's)
Albertville 1992- Roberto Alvarez, Mexico, 3:09:04.7 (67th place, 6 DNF's, 6 DNS's)
Lillehammer 1994-  Janis Hermanis, Latvia, 2:36:11.1 (61st place, 5 DNF's, 6 DNS's)
Nagano 1998- Guido Visser, Canada, 2:33:49.7 (62nd place, 13 DNF's, 4 DNS's)
Salt Lake City 2002- Alexander Penna, Brazil, 3:23:58.7 (57th place, 2 DNF's, 3 DNS's, 2 DQ's)
Torino 2006- Ren Long, China, 2:16:15.0 (63rd place, 16 DNF's, 3 DNS's)
Vancouver 2010- Jonas Thor Olsen, Denmark, 2:25:00.9- only a tenth of a second behind Franscesc Soulie of Andorra, with whom he sprinted to the line despite being at the very back of the pack (48th place, 5 DNF's, 2 DNS's)

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