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Muehlegg Wins Third Gold Medal in Cross Country Skiing - 2002-02-24

Spanish cross country skier Johann Muehlegg has won his third gold medal of the Salt Lake City Olympics in the grueling 50-kilometer race. He won a back and forth battle with Russian Mikhail Ivanov to take the Olympic championship.

Johann Muehlegg, a German-born skier who now competes for Spain, was considered the favorite headed into Saturday's 50-kilometer classic style race. However, he had to make up a 30-second gap in the final 10 kilometers to beat Russian Mikhail Ivanov.

In the end, Muehlegg was able to catch the Russian and move nearly 15 seconds ahead of him. Muehlegg's winning time was two hours, six minutes, and 5.5 seconds. The bronze medal went to Estonian Andrus Veerpalu.

Muehlegg, who competed for Germany in three Olympics but now skis for Spain, also won the men's 10-kilometer pursuit and 30-kilometer race. His victories are Spain's first gold medals in Nordic events. The top American finisher was John Bauer, who was 35th, nearly 13.5 minutes off the pace.