Host City: Lake Placid, United States
Venue(s): Mt. Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area, Lake Placid
Date Started: February 21, 1980
Date Finished: February 21, 1980
The defending Olympic champion Soviet Union was regarded as the favorite, but at the 1978 World Championships the Soviet team was beaten into third place behind Finland and Sweden after a very close battle. The 1980 Olympic relay became a rather non-exciting affair, with almost no changing of positions among the best teams after the first leg.
At the first leg, four teams left the others early: East Germany, the Soviet Union, Norway and Sweden, and at the last part of the leg, East Germany’s Marlies Rostock and Soviet Nina Baldycheva went away, Rostock reaching the exchange two seconds ahead of Baldycheva, with Norway in third 18 seconds behind the leader. On the second leg East Germany’s Carola Anding went away from the Soviet Union’s Nina Rocheva and built up almost a 30 second lead at the exchange. Norway was still in third, 35 seconds behind the leader. On the third leg Veronika Hesse decided the relay in East Germany’s favor by outclassing Galina Kulakova, and when Olympic 10 km champion Barbara Petzold took over on the anchor leg, the margin ahead of the Soviet team was nearly one minute, with Norway still in third place. Petzold cruised to the finish for an easy win, 1:05 ahead of Soviet’s Raisa Smetanina, and Norway’s Berit Aunli was another minute behind in third place. Finland was a distant and disappointing fifth behind Czechoslovakia, after lying sixth most of the race. Their anchor leg skier Hilkka Riihivouri overtook Sweden in the final part of the race.