Marjo Matikainen became the first four-time medalist as Finland kept its home-track winning streak alive at the World Nordic Ski Championships today with a victory in the women's 20-kilometer relay.
Matikainen, a 24-year-old student from Helsinki who won a gold in the 15K classic-style race, a silver in the 10K freestyle and a bronze medal in the 10K classic-style race, anchored the Finnish team to a 7.1-second win over the Soviet Union.
The relay racers covered the first two legs in the classic style and the final two laps in the freestyle technique, in which the long and narrow skis are almost used as ice skates.
The Finnish quartet of Pirkko Maatta, Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi, Jaana Savolainen and Matikainen made it a wire-to-wire win, covering the four 5K laps in 54 minutes, 49.8 seconds. The Finnish quartet clocked the fastest women's relay time ever in a major championship despite a fall by Savolainen late on the third leg.
Norway was second at the midway mark.
Finland now has won all four events in the last three days and moved closer to an all-time medal harvest in the Nordic Worlds. It now has six gold, three silver and three bronze and needs three more medals to surpass Norway's record of 14, set in the 1982 Worlds at Oslo. Five of the 15 events remain here.
The United States placed 11th out of 14 finishers in 59:23.1. Nancy Fiddler of Crowley Lake, Calif., skied the fifth-fastest second-leg. Others on the U.S. team were Wendy Reeves of Hanover, N.H., Leslie Thompson of Stowe, Vt., and Ingrid Butts of Park City, Utah.