Who is Marit Bjorgen?
Bucking the stereotype, Marit Bjorgen was not a young child living in Norway dreaming of one day winning an Olympic gold medal in one of the many Nordic events often dominated by her fellow Norwegians. She didn’t even consider the prospect until she hit her early 20s. Today, at 37, she is a 10-time Olympic medalist with a chance to become the most-decorated Winter Olympian of all time in PyeongChang.
Although she did not fantasize about winning an Olympic medal as a kid, or becoming a hero in her home country, Bjorgen did enjoy winning cross-country races. From the time she started racing at 7 years old until she hit 13, she says she never lost a race.
Though success on snow came naturally to Bjorgen in her youth, she had to be patient as a young adult on the World Cup. Making her debut at 19 in 1999, she raced in just five World Cup events, finishing no better than 33rd.
After winning team silver in the relay at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, followed by another relay silver on the World Cup that same year, Bjorsen’s cross-country wins started to quickly pile up. Racing in her first event of the 2002-03 season, Bjorgen won her first World Cup gold medal in the women’s 2km individual sprint. That same season she would go on to win a total of seven medals – three gold, three silver and one bronze.
Bjorgen’s dominance on cross-country’s world stage has been staggering. She is an 18-time world champion (12 individually, 6 team). In 288 individual World Cup starts, Bjorgen has won 110 gold medals, which includes her stage event wins on the Tour de Ski, a seven-stage event played out over the course of a season. She won the Tour de Ski overall title outright in 2015.
Bjorgen has won four FIS big Crystal Globes, awareded to the season's overall World Cup title champion. She has also won three Sprint Globes and three Distance Globes, which are handed out to points leaders at the end of the season for each dicipline. This dominance has led to approximately $2.6 million in prize winnings for Norway's cross-country superstar.
Bjorgen made her Olympic debut at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games where she won her first major international medal, a silver, with Norway’s women’s relay team.
In Torino, the Norwegian cross-country team historically failed to win a single gold medal for the first time since the Olympics in Nagano in 1998. Bjorgen battled illness to take home a single silver medal.
Four years later in Vancouver, Bjorgen skied magnificently. She punctuated her 2010 Olympic campaign by winning a medal in every race she entered, a haul which amounted to three golds, a silver and a bronze. Her 2010 Olympic gold medals where won in the sprint, pursuit and the 4x5km women's relay.
At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, she added three more gold medals to her name, with two this time coming in distance events – the 30km mass start and Skiathlon. Her third trip to the top podium spot came in the team sprint alongside Norway’s Olympic rookie, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg.
Bjorgen temporarily took her feet off the cambers during the 2015-16 season when she decided to have a baby with her partner, four-time Olympic Nordic combined medalist, Fred Borre Lundberg. The couple welcomed their son, Marius, in December 2015.
Bjorgen returned to the World Cup circuit in November 2016, and as if she had never left, she won a race.