In 1972 Helena Takalo won a silver medal as a member of Finland's 3x5km relay team. She also finished fifth in the individual 10km race. At the 1976 Innsbruck Games, Takalo earned the gold medal in the 5km race by bettering the time of Raisa Smetanina by a mere second. The next day she added a silver medal at 10km, trailing Smetanina by less than a second. Takalo added another silver medal as Finland's anchor in the 4x5km relay. Four years later at the Lake Placid Olympics, Takalo earned a final medal by placing third in the 10km race.