Vyacheslav Vedenin

Dramatic Cross-Country Relay Victory

On 4 February 1972, Vyacheslav Vedenin, who was only 1.63m tall, won the 30km cross-country race by 54.15 seconds. He was the first male Soviet skier to win a gold medal in an individual event. Six days later he added a bronze medal in the 50km contest, having previously gained a silver medal in 1968. This left Vedenin with one more race: the 4x10km relay.

Four years earlier, at the 1968 Winter Olympics, Vedenin had anchored the Soviet relay team and missed a bronze medal when Finland's Eero Mäntyranta passed him just as they reached the finish line. In Sapporo, Vedenin was again chosen to be the Soviet anchor. This time he took over 61½ seconds behind Johs Harviken of Norway. Vedenin gradually closed the gap, overtook Harviken one kilometre from the finish, and went on to win by just slightly more than 9 seconds.