Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi inherited her love of cross-country skiing from her father Kalevi Hämäläinen. He won an Olympic gold medal in the 50km event when she was just four years old.
At the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games, she emerged from her father’s shadow. The undoubted star of Sarajevo, she won gold medals in all three individual cross-country skiing events and also won a bronze medal in the team event.
At the 1988 Calgary Winter Games she added a bronze medal and won two further bronze at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games. This made it a career haul of seven Olympic medals.
Her husband, cross-country skier Harri Kirvesniemi, himself won medals at five consecutive Olympic Winter Games. In 1989 she was presented the Holmenkollen medal, one of the highest honours in Nordic skiing.