Nikolay Zimyatov is the greatest Soviet or Russian male cross-country skier. His fame rests primarily on his performance at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, when he won three gold medals in the 30 km, 50 km, and relay. He added two further Olympic medals in 1984, defending his 30 km title, and helping the Soviets to win a silver in the relay. At other championships he was much less successful, as his best finish at a World Championships was second in the 1978 30 km at Lahti. His other placements at the World Championships were fourth in the relay and fifth in the 15 km in 1978 and sixth in the relay, eighth at 15 km and 17th over 30 km in 1985. Zimyatov also won four Soviet Championships – in 1978 in the 30 km and relay and in 1979 in both 15 and 30 km. After his sporting career Zimyatov worked as a cross-country skiing coach, coaching the 2002 Russian Olympic team. In 1980 he married Lyubov Sykova, who placed 13th at 20 km race at the 1985 World Championships.