OBERSTDORF, West Germany (AP) _ Thomas Wassberg of Sweden clinched the first gold medal of the World Nordic Ski Championships, winning the men's 30-kilometer cross-country race today.

Wassberg, the 30-year-old Olympic 50-kilometer champion, covered the distance in one hour, 24 minutes, 30.2 seconds.

Aki Karvonen of Finland took the silver in 1:26:24.0, while the bronze went to Christer Majbaeck of Sweden, who was timed in 1:26:55.0.

Harri Karvonen of Finland was fourth.

Defending champion and pre-race favorite, Gunde Svan of Sweden, lagged in seventh place, more than four minutes behind Wassberg.

Svan, the Olympic 15-kilometer champion and the World Cup leader this season, had said on the eve of the race that he was feeling unfit due to an unspecified illness. He was beaten in final team training races just before the championships and predicted Wednesday that he would have trouble defending the title.