Host City: Albertville, France
Venue(s): , Les Saisies
Date Started: February 18, 1992
Date Finished: February 18, 1992
And so it would begin. Norway was heavily favored, led by [Vegard Ulvang] and [Bjørn Dæhlie], who would sweep the individual gold medals in Albertville, each winning two. But the story was less about the eventual Norwegian victory, by 1:26.7 over Italy, but the start of a relay rivalry between the two teams that would reach storybook proportions in Lillehammer and extend through the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. From 1992-2002 the gold and silver medal was won every time by Norway and Italy, with Norway winning three titles, but losing the one they wanted most, at Lillehammer in 1994. In the races from 1994-2002 the total margin of victory was 0.9 seconds. Beginning in 1991 Norway would win 9 of 10 World Championships, but from 1993-99, Italy was on the podium each time, second in 1993 and third in 1995, 1997, and 1999.
At the first exchange Sweden led Norway narrowly, with Italy back in fifth. But Ulvang skied the second leg for Norway and posted the second fastest split of the day to move Norway into a lead they would not relinquish. Italy was fourth after two legs, but would move into second at the final exchange, as [Giorgio Vanzetta] made up 36.7 seconds on [Kristen Skjeldal]. But Dæhlie would close it out, skiing the fastest leg of the event, and bringing Norway home well in front.