Host City: Nagano, Japan
Date Started: February 8, 1998
Date Finished: February 8, 1998
Participants: 229 (127 men and 102 women) from 37 countries
Youngest Participant: Katrin Šmigun (18 years, 111 days)
Oldest Participant: Harri Kirvesniemi (39 years, 285 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Larisa Lazutina (5 medals)
Most Medals (Country): Norway (9 medals)
The 1998 cross-country events were held at Nozawa Onsen, a small village within Nagano, at a Nordic ski stadium specially constructed for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. There was no basic change to the program, except that, in keeping with the policy instituted by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) for 1994, the middle- and longest-distance individual races for both men and women flipped styles. In 1994, men skied 30 km freestyle and 50 km classically, while in Nagano, the 30 km was classical and the 50 km freestyle. A similar change occurred for women in the 15 km and 30 km.
Norwegian superstar Bjørn Dæhlie was back for his third Winter Olympics, and he won four medals, as he had done in Albertville and Lillehammer. This included three golds, in the 10 km, 50 km, and relay. On the women’s side, Russian Larisa Lazutina was even more dominant in Nagano. She won medals in all five women’s events, with three golds in the 5 km, pursuit, and relay, a silver at 15 km, and a bronze in the 30 km. In the men’s relay, the Norwegians and Italians continued their battle from Albertville and Lillehammer, Norway winning in 1992 and Italy in 1994, in what was considered the greatest cross-country ski race in Olympic history. This time Norway finished ahead, but by even a closer finish than in 1994, only 2/10ths of a second separating the two teams at the finish.