Marjo Matikainen, after winning a bronze and a silver in her two last races, finally got a gold at the World Nordic Ski Championships today.
And the Finns completed their second medal sweep of the meet as Matikainen edged veteran Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi by two seconds and Pirkko Maatta took third, 34.2 seconds behind the leader, in the 15-kilometer classic-style race.
Matikainen led the race all the way, posting the fastest intermediate times, and clocked a winning time of 47 minutes, 46.6 seconds.
"I didn't expect to win," she said after becoming the first triple medalist of the championships.
Kirvesniemi, the 1984 triple Olympic champion, started 41st and was able to check Matikainen's split times.
"But I didn't ski very well during the first part of the race," said Kirvesniemi, who trailed Matikainen by 12.6 seconds at the 7.5-kilometer mark. "It was very tough. But I think I really finished well."
It was the first time the 15K was contested among the women in a world championship.
Finland moved to three gold, three silver and three bronze atop the medal standings after seven of the 15 scheduled events.
The Soviet Union is second at 2-1-1 and Sweden, which swept the men's 15K freestyle event Monday, is third at 1-1-2.
U.S. Skier Was 15th
Nancy Fiddler of Crowley Lake, Calif., ended a four-year World Cup points drought for the U.S. women by finishing 15th in 50:43.0.
Fiddler watched the scoreboard as the final times were posted and raised her arms over the head while a friend ran over to give her a hug.
She was 13th when she finished, and of the skiers starting behind Fiddler, only Matikainen and Kirvesniemi beat her time.
Fiddler also was the top American finisher in the two other races here, 25th in the 10K classic-style race and 23rd in the 10K freestyle event.