PRAGELATO, Italy (Feb. 12) - Three-time Olympian Carl Swenson (Park City, UT) was the top U.S. finisher in 40th in Sunday's Cross Country 30km Pursuit.
Russian Eugeni Dementiev won the race and the gold medal with a time of 1:17:00.8. Taking the silver was Norwegian Frode Estil (1:17:01.4) and Italy's Pietro Piller Cottrer won bronze (1:17:01.7).
Swenson finished the course in 1:21:08.0, 4:07.2 behind Dementiev. Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT) was 43rd (1:21:16.8), James Southam (Anchorage, AK) was just behind in 44th (1:22:05.8) and Lars Flora (Anchorage, AK) was 49th (1:22:31.2).
“It was tough, I would have liked to have been up with the lead pack but I think I can build on this and move up as the week goes on," said Swenson. "I’m really looking at the 50k at the end of the Olympics.”
The Pursuit consists of two races in one. Competitors ski the first 15km in classic style. Midway through, they change equipment and complete the remaining 15km in freestyle. The tough course was the cause of several crashes.
“It’s a great course, perfect conditions," said Swenson. "But it’s the Olympics and everybody wants to be there in a big pack, so it was pretty messy there at the beginning. When the crashes start coming, all you can do is stay light on your feet and keep looking ahead. I managed to move around three crashes in the first two kilometers.”
Southam, competing at his first Olympics, got caught up in some traffic and crashes very near the start of the race.
"The course was good, the corners on the classic part were a little tight," said Southam. "People were getting thrown and there were a lot of crashes out there. There were probably four crashes in the first lap. There were about three different crashes in front of me. I caught my shin in a guy’s armpit and I went down. It was a rough first 200 meters.”
Next up for the cross country skiers is the 6x1.4km Team Sprint on Feb. 14.XX OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
Pragelato, ITA - Feb. 12, 2006
Men's Cross Country 30km Pursuit
1. Eugeni Dementiev, Russia, 1:17:00.8
2. Frode Estil, Norway, 1:17:01.4
3. Pietro Piller Cottrer, Italy, 1:17:01.7
4. Giorgio di Centa, Italy, 1:17:03.2
5. Anders Soedergren, Sweden, 1:17:04.3
40. Carl Swenson, Park City, Utah, 1:21:08.0
43. Andrew Johnson, Greensboro, Vt., 1:21:16.8
44. James Southam, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:22:05.8
49. Lars Flora, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:22:31.2