Host City: Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
Venue(s): Veliko Polje, Igman
Date Started: February 16, 1984
Date Finished: February 16, 1984
The men’s relay race at the 1982 World Championships in Oslo turned out to be the most dramatic race in the history of cross-country skiing to this date. On the last leg, a few hundred meters from the finish, the Soviet Union’s Aleksandr Zavyalov and Norway’s Oddvar Brå were close together. Zavalyov fell, but Brå broke one of his poles, only to get a new one quickly, and they skiied side-by-side over the last meters. The race was judged a draw, and for the first time there two world champion relay teams. And that was not the end of the story. Finland and Eastern Germany had a close fight for the bronze, and the judges could not separate them either, as they shared bronze. Ties for first and third, a unique feat.
The defending Olympic Champion Soviet Union was favored to win another Olympic relay gold, but a close competition was expected with Finland and Sweden. On the first leg, Sweden’s Thomas Wassberg had a 10 second lead over the Soviet Union’s Aleksandr Batyuk, with US skier Dan Simoneau in a surprising third. Norway in sixth and Finland in eighth position were left far behind. On the second leg, the Soviet Union’s Aleksandr Zavyalov passed Sweden’s Benny Kohlberg and sent Vladimir Nikitin out on the third leg with a 12 second lead over Sweden’s Jan Ottosson. Juha Mieto brought Finland back in the fight for the medals by bringing his team up to third place, half a second ahead of Norway, but over 1½ minutes behind the leading Soviet team. Ottoson was able to close the gap to Nikitin, and was only half a second behind at the last exchange. Norway’s Ove Aunli, third at the last exchange, was 10 seconds ahead of Finland’s Harri Kirvesniemi. The last leg saw a close duel between the two 1984 Olympic champions, Gunde Svan and Nikolay Zimyatov. The young Swede left his Russian rival and secured Sweden their first Olympic relay gold medal since 1964. Finland’s Aki Karvonen had an easy contest for the bronze medal against Norway’s Tor Håkon Holte, leaving the Norwegian almost one minute behind.