CANMORE, ALBERTA, FEB. 25 -- Tamara Tikhonova led a Soviet medal sweep in the grueling 20-kilometer race today, the final women's cross country event of the Winter Olympics.
The Soviet team won three of the four women's races and have golds in two of three men's races, with Saturday's 50-kilometer the only event remaining. In seven races, the Soviets have captured five gold, five silver and three bronze medals.
Tikhonova's time was 55 minutes 53.6 seconds over the tough Canmore Nordic Center course, which has a vertical climb of about a half mile.
Anfissa Reztsova took the silver and Raisa Smetanina, competing in her fourth Olympics, clinched a record ninth medal by taking the bronze.
Smetanina, two days shy of her 36th birthday, was asked how she would celebrate today's success. To the giggles of her compatriots, she replied: "Drink a lot." The team's interpreter added, straight-faced, "That was a joke."
The fourth Soviet skier, Nina Gavriliuk, was eighth across the line but was later disqualified for wearing an oversized logo of a sports shoe manufacturer on her headband.
Smetanina moved ahead of her famous countrywoman Galina Kulakova to become the most decorated cross country woman skier of all time.
Kulakova, like Smetanina a native of the Urals province of Russia, ruled the trails in the early 1970s and won four Olympic gold medals.
"My only plan before the race was to try my best to win a medal," Smetanina said. "I wanted to have one more medal than Kulakova."