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The Most Thrilling Cross-Country Olympic Relays Since 1992

The relay race is a marquee event in cross-country skiing at the Olympics. We've seen some thrilling finishes in recent history. Here are the most memorable of them, with medals won, or lost, by one second or less.

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In cross-country skiing, you propel yourself across the snow using skis and poles. Cross-country skiing is an "original" Winter Olympic sport: the first Winter Games featured two medal events, including the grueling 50-km marathon.

The relay races are wonderful. In Sochi, Sweden became the first country to win both cross-country relays in the same Olympics since the Soviet Union in 1972.

In the men's relay (4 x 10 km) on Sunday, the Swedes dominated throughout the race, leaving Marcus Hellner enough time to wave his country's flag as he cruised ahead of Russia's Maxim Vylegzhanin and France's Ivan Perrillat Boiteux. It was France's first-ever men's relay medal, and Russia's silver means their 26-year relay drought is over. Russia's silver medal rested on the Alexander Legkov's mighty shoulders: the skier turned a monstrous performance gaining nearly 30 seconds on the Swedish leader and putting Russia in second place during the relay's third leg.

In the women's race (4 x 5 km) on Saturday, Charlotte Kalla erased a 25-second deficit on the final leg and won a three-way sprint at the finish line. The Swedish women's relay team made this list -- but in the end, it's all about Italy vs Norway in the 1990s.

7. Turin 2006: Germany wins silver by 1 sec

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The latest year of Russia's dominance in the women's relay races featured a three-way sprint for silver and bronze at the end. Germany beat Italy by one second, leaving no medals for Sweden.

6. Vancouver 2010: Norway takes silver by .6 sec

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Sweden was dominant and golden as Marcus Hellner casually rolled over the finish line waving his country's flag. Norway settled for silver, beating out the Czech Republic by .6 seconds at the finish line.

5. Turin 2006: Germany wins silver by .3 sec

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Home crowd's ecstasy knew no bounds as Italy ran away with gold. Germany worked hard for its silver, winning by half a ski.

4. Sochi 2014: Sweden, Finland, & Germany put on a show

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Sweden's Charlotte Kalla takes gold by half a second, Finland is .4 sec faster than Germany. It's a three-way finish for the ages.

3. 2002 Salt Lake City: Italy vs Norway Part III, .3 sec

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In Utah, Thomas Alsgaard and Christian Zorzi skied together through the very end, before the Norwegian took the crown by .3 seconds

1. 1994 Lillehammer: Italy vs Norway Part I, .4 sec

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This was perhaps the most dramatic race in the history of cross-country skiing. The Norwegian mega-champion Bjørn Dæhlie won two individual golds but couldn't beat Silvio Fauner at the finish line. The mighty Norwegians lost at home! Dæhlie, Ulvang, and Alsgaard have won a combined 16 Olympic gold medals, but it wasn't their time to shine in the men's 4 x 10 km relay in Lillehammer.

In 2006, the winning Italian team was among the last carriers of the Olympic torch at the Winter Games opening ceremony in Turin. The legend of their '94 victory lives.

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