Host City: Lake Placid, United States
Venue(s): Mt. Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area, Lake Placid
Date Started: February 18, 1980
Date Finished: February 18, 1980
All the medalists from the 1976 Games were present, and among the favorites were the defending champion Raisa Smetanina, silver medalist Helena Takalo and the 1976 bronze medalist, the dominant female cross-country skier during the 1970s, Galina Kulakova, now aged 37 and making her last individual Olympic appearance. The reigning World Champion at the distance, Zinaida Amosova, was not present, however, failing to qualify for the Soviet Olympic team.
At the halfway point, East Germany’s Barbara Petzold had taken the lead, almost 14 seconds ahead of Smetanina, with the other favorites closely following: the silver medalist from the 5 km race Hilkka Riihivuori in third, only 0.3 seconds behind Smetanina, then Takalo in fourth, another 1.9 seconds behind, and Kulakova in fifth place, 6 seconds behind Takalo. Kulakova was the first of the favorites to finish, but Takalo, starting half a minute behind, immediately took over the lead, finishing 13 seconds ahead of the Soviet veteran. Then everybody’s eyes were on the 24-year old leader Petzold. She finished 14 seconds stronger than Takalo, and Riihivuori, chasing Petzold from behind, arriving 3.5 seconds too late to beat the leading German woman. The final challenger was Smetanina, the winner of the 5 km race three days earlier. To everybody’s surprise she faded in the last part of the race and dropped down to fourth, outside the medal podium, 9 seconds behind Takalo.
Even if Petzold’s victory was a minor surprise, she had earlier shown great promise on the cross-country track. In 1974, at only 18-years-old, she won the silver medal at 10 km at the World Championships in Falun. In the 1976 Games she placed seventh at the distance, but her later progress was hampered by overtraining. She became the first ever German to win an Olympic cross-country gold medal.
|1||Barbara Petzold||24||East Germany||GDR||Gold||30:31.54||16:29.10||1|
|4||Raisa Smetanina||27||Soviet Union||URS||30:54.48||16:42.97||2|
|5||Galina Kulakova||37||Soviet Union||URS||30:58.46||16:51.58||5|
|6||Nina Fyodorova-Baldycheva||32||Soviet Union||URS||31:22.93||17:03.54||7|
|7||Marlies Rostock||19||East Germany||GDR||31:28.79||17:08.43||9|
|8||Veronika Hesse-Schmidt||27||East Germany||GDR||31:29.14||17:07.83||8|
|12||Carola Anding||19||East Germany||GDR||31:45.82||17:15.59||12|
|14||Iraida Suslova||25||Soviet Union||URS||31:48.39||17:19.00||15|
|21||Susi Riermeier||19||West Germany||FRG||32:37.57||17:37.31||20|
|22||Alison Owen-Spencer||27||United States||USA||32:41.33||17:41.64||22|
|25||Beth Paxson||20||United States||USA||33:01.60||17:54.62||28|
|26||Karin Jäger||18||West Germany||FRG||33:01.76||17:52.77||25|
|28||Leslie Bancroft-Krichko||20||United States||USA||33:04.71||17:49.33||24|
|31||Lynn von der Heide-Spencer-Galanes||25||United States||USA||33:13.89||18:00.28||31|