Host City: Salt Lake City, United States
Venue(s): Soldier Hollow, Wasatch Mountain State Park
Date Started: February 21, 2002
Date Finished: February 21, 2002
The heavy pre-race favorite was Russia, which had won the last five World Championships, and the Winter Olympics gold going back to 1988, counting their Soviet Union and Unified Team analogues. But they could not compete when [Larisa Lazutina] was held out when a doping test showed an abnormally high hematocrit. Lazutina and her teammate, Olga Danilova, would later be disqualified when it was revealed in October-December 2003 that they had tested positive for darbopoietin, a drug similar to erythropoietin, which can boost red blood cell levels. In Russia’s absence, the favorite was likely Norway, but the event was considered too close to call. Germany took the lead early, with Switzerland, Slovenia, and Norway trailing after the first leg. Norway went ahead on the second leg, 2.7 seconds ahead of Norway, as they both distanced themselves from Switzerland, which was third. Norway stayed ahead by the final exchange, nine seconds over Germany, and another seven seconds back to Switzerland. On the anchor leg, Germany’s [Evi Sachenbacher] caught Norway’s anchor, [Anita Moen-Guidon], and pulled ahead 100 metres from the line to win the gold medal for Germany. Switzerland won the bronze medal comfortably.