Bjoergen, Cologna star in cross-country in Sochi

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 24, 2014 at 12:28 am •  Published: February 24, 2014
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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Marit Bjoergen is still in a class of her own in women's cross-country skiing, although perhaps not quite as dominant as she was four years ago.

Dario Cologna is now top of the class on the men's side, seemingly unaffected by an injury-plagued season, warm weather and anything that his rivals can throw at him.

The cross-country events at the Sochi Olympics saw two of the sport's biggest stars grab the spotlight over a two-week program that also saw other favorites falter, new faces emerge and old rivalries being renewed.

Norway, as usual, was the most successful nation, but had to watch neighbor Sweden come away with both the relay golds. Host nation Russia struggled until the final day, when it swept the podium in the most prestigious race of all, the men's 50 kilometers.

Here are five things to know about the cross-country skiing events at the Sochi Olympics:

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MARIT'S MARK: Bjoergen collected three gold medals for the second Olympics in a row and leaves Sochi as the most successful women's Winter Olympian ever. She wasn't quite as prolific as in Vancouver, where she added a silver and bronze medal as well, but now leads the women's all-time list with her six golds and 10 overall medals. It may be her final tally, as the 33-year-old Bjoergen said she doubts she'll still be competing in 2018. But the Norwegian doesn't seem too concerned with numbers. "When I'm finished skiing I can think about how many medals I have," Bjoergen said. "But right now it doesn't mean much."

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SUPER DARIO: Cologna was the only multiple gold winner on the men's side, coming back from having ankle surgery in November to win the opening the skiathlon race and then dominating the 15K classical as well. Cologna is a three-time overall World Cup champion but his performance was still surprising given that he only returned to competition in January. He may have had a chance at a third in the 50K race if he hadn't broken his ski with about 5K left. "That was a big chance to win another medal," Cologna said after the race. "In the moment the disappointment is bigger but when I go home I will sure be very happy with these Olympics."

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