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WINTER OLYMPICS : Other Sports : Matikainen a Winner in 5K Skiing

February 18, 1988|From Times Wires Services

CANMORE, Canada — Marjo Matikainen of Finland took the lead at the 4-kilometer mark and held on to win the women's 5-kilometer cross-country ski race Wednesday, ending by a mere 1.3 seconds the Soviet dominance of the Nordic events of the Winter Olympics.

Matikainen covered the twisting, hilly course at Canmore Nordic Center in 15 minutes, 4.0 seconds for her second medal of the Games. She was third in the women's 10K earlier in the week. Tamara Tikhonova of the Soviet Union was second in 15:05.3, and teammate Vida Ventsene, the winner of the 10K, was third in 15:11.1.

Matikainen and Ventsene were the first double medalists of the Games.

"I didn't have a very good warmup in the morning," the 23-year-old Matikainen said. "But one kilometer into the race I felt it went quite smoothly.

"On the last kilometer, I had enough energy to finish the race real well. But I was so tired. I remember seeing the red finish line. After that I don't remember anything."

The United States skiers had another bad day and bad communications between the skiers and team officials along the course were a major reason.

"They weren't calling the split times," said Leslie Krichko of Portland, Ore., who was 31st in 16:31.1 for the top American placing among 53 finishers.

Blind cross country skiers, wanting to be recognized as world-class athletes, made their Olympic debut.

"They realize their performance is going to be evaluated," U.S. disabled cross country coach Ted Fay said. "If the response is 'Aw, gee, isn't it wonderful those people are out there,' we've lost it. If people realize they are dedicated athletes performing at the highest level possible, then we've got our message across."

Disabled skiing is an exhibition sport at the Calgary Olympics.

Veronika Preining of Austria and guide Siegfried Haberl took the women's event in 22 minutes, 56.3 seconds. Hans Aalien of Norway and guide Arne Homb won the men's event in 18:51.2.

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