Host City: Lillehammer, Norway
Venue(s): Olympic Amphitheatre, Hamar
Date Started: February 24, 1994
Date Finished: February 26, 1994
Format: Placements 1-8 based on final and B final. Deeper placements based on points earned in earlier rounds, and time in final round skated.
One of the major favourites for the relay gold in Hamar was eliminated 11 months before the Games. The sole qualifying event for the Olympics was the relay at the World Championships, with the top eight teams qualifying. A fall of star skater [Kim Gi-Hun] meant South Korea missed the final eight, while Great Britain (silver medallist at the 1992 World Championships) was also eliminated. 1993 World Champion became New Zealand, which set a new World Record in the process. But all of the other nations also stood a chance of winning a medal, excepting perhaps the home team, Norway.
In the end, it was Italy, the United States, Canada and Australia qualifying for the final. Italy was the fastest team in the heats, and the strongest squad in the final. Their top man was 500 m World Record holder [Mirko Vuillermin], who was poised to make up for his narrow defeat in the 500 m. Departing about halfway, the Italians opened up a 1 to 2 second gap that they never gave up. Behind them, the Americans took the silver, with [Eric Flaim] among them. He had earlier won a silver medal as a long track speed skater (in 1988), and became the first person to win Olympic medals in both sports. The Australian team, in third, won their country's first ever Olympic medal at the Winter Games.
In 1997, two members of the golden Italian team would be involved in motorcycle accidents. Within a month, first [Orazio Fagone] suffered the amputation of his right leg, and then Vuillermin was severely injured. Vuillermin recovered, but never returned to the sport, while Fagone is wheelchair-bound, but later picked up ice sledge hockey and competed in that sport in the 2006 Paralympics.