Spain's Muehlegg Collects Second Gold, Wins XC Pursuit

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Midway, Utah Feb. 14, 2002 (AP by Mark Long)--Johann Muehlegg of Spain won his second gold medal of the Winter Games, dominating the men's cross-country pursuit event Thursday despite a fall.

Norwegians Thomas Alsgaard and Frode Estil tied for the silver medal. Alsgaard lunged his left ski forward at the finish line to create the tie before falling to the ground.

Alsgaard and Estil waited several minutes for the official decision.

The event had little drama otherwise.

Muehlegg won the 10K classic-style race earlier in the day, giving himself a 13-second lead to begin the second leg of the Event--the 10K freestyle pursuit, where starting order is based on finish in the classic-style race.

The winner was the first to cross the finish.

There was little doubt it would be Muehlegg, who pulled away from the start--even with a face-first fall in the opening kilometer. He quickly got up, kept going and extended his lead to 50 seconds at the 5-kilometer mark.

The German-born skier covered the entire 20K event in 49 minutes, 20.4 seconds _ 28.5 seconds faster than the Norwegians.

It was a performance similar to his first gold medal victory. He won the 30K freestyle event Saturday, beating his nearest competitor by more than two minutes.

He was so far in front Thursday that he slowed down to grab a Spanish flag, carried it in his right hand for the final 100 meters and waved it as he crossed the finish line.

Alsgaard started the race 36 seconds behind Estil but rallied for the silver with the fastest time in the 10K freestyle race. World Cup champion Per Elofsson of Sweden finished fourth, keeping him off the medals platform for the third straight Olympics competition.

Americans Kris Freeman (15th), John Bauer (20th), Justin Wadsworth (44th) and Patrick Weaver (47th) were not factors.

Held on the same day for the first time in the Olympics, the pursuit features athletes skiing 10K using the classic Technique--staying in narrow tracks--and then going the same distance in freestyle, which uses shorter skis and resembles skating.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press