Cross country queen Bjørgen still reigning supreme

04 Mar 2015

During the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden, Marit Bjørgen wrote another glorious chapter in her story, adding the world championship crown to her World Cup and Olympic titles

On 28 February 2015, in the final women’s cross-country event of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun (Sweden), Marit Bjørgen took second place in the 30km mass start behind fellow Norwegian Therese Johaug. It gave her an unassailable cumulative score, ensuring her the title and taking her overall medal haul at the Winter
 Games and the Worlds to 32.

On the Olympic stage alone she has thus far amassed 10 medals (six gold, three silver and one bronze), which makes her the most successful female Winter Olympian of all time. Meanwhile, her 22 world championship medals (14 gold, five silver and three bronze) means she has a cumulative total that has never been matched by another competitor, while only Russia’s Elena Välbe has as many titles.

Modest beginnings

Bjørgen made her Olympic debut at the age of 21 at Salt Lake City 2002, winning silver as a member of Norway’s women’s 4x5km team alongside Bente Skari, Helde Pedersen and Anita Moan.

She arrived in Turin four years later with high hopes, but stomach problems restricted her to just the one medal – another silver in the 10km classical.

Vancouver medal blitz

It was at Vancouver 2010 that Bjørgen really made her mark on the Olympic stage for the first time, climbing onto the podium in every event she entered. She began with a bronze in the 10km freestyle and then won three golds in a row (in the sprint, the 15km pursuit and the 4x5km team relay) before taking silver in the 30km classical, an event in which she finished just 0.3 seconds behind Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk. That impressive haul made her the most successful female athlete of the 2010 Winter Games and led to her also collecting the Holmenkollen Medal, the highest distinction a Norwegian skier can receive.

Crowned in Sochi

By the end of the 2013/14 season Bjørgen had taken her total number of FIS World Cup wins to a massive 66. Her form undimmed by the time Sochi 2014 came around, the Norwegian great successfully defended her Olympic 15km pursuit title and then partnered Ingvild Flugstad Østberg to gold in the women’s team sprint. She saved the best until last, getting the better of her two compatriots Therese Johaug and Kristin Størmer Steira to win the blue riband 30km freestyle event at her fourth attempt.

Fittingly, the greatest ever female Winter Olympian received her gold medal from IOC President Thomas Bach in front of 40,000 spectators gathered at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium for the Closing Ceremony.

World Cup glory

During the 2015 World Cup season, the Norwegian legend added the only title missing from her list of honours: the Tour de Ski. In doing so she took her overall tally to an incredible 90 individual victories (including stage wins in the Tour de Ski) and 149 podiums in total, a record for any FIS discipline.

Known as Gull-Marit (Golden Marit) in her native Norway, Bjørgen will be approaching her 38th birthday by the time of the next Winter Games in PyeongChang in 2018, but who would bet against her extending her record medal tally?

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