KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Marit Bjoergen already has enough Olympic gold medals for her own collection. This one was for her grieving teammate.
Bjoergen won the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon in the opening cross-country event at the Sochi Olympics on Saturday to earn her fourth career gold on an emotional day for the close-knit Norwegian team. It was dealing with the news that Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen's brother had died a day earlier.
Bjoergen and her three teammates — who also finished third and fourth — broke down in tears as they embraced immediately after the race, and she dedicated the victory to Jacobsen's family.
"Astrid and her family wanted us to race for her brother, and we really did a good race for him today," Bjoergen said. "Of course it is emotional. We did it for her, her family and her brother."
The Norwegian Olympic team said Jacobsen's brother died "suddenly and unexpectedly" on Friday, but did not provide any details.
Heidi Weng won the bronze medal with teammate Therese Johaug in fourth. Charlotte Kalla of Sweden prevented a Norwegian medal sweep by taking the silver after a two-way contest against Bjoergen in the stadium.
Bjoergen held off Kalla on the final straight to win in 38 minutes, 33.6 seconds and defend her title from the 2010 Vancouver Games. Kalla was 1.8 seconds behind.
Weng won a three-way sprint for the bronze medal, coming 13.2 seconds behind the Bjoergen. During the flower ceremony on the podium, both Bjoergen and Weng were in tears and Weng was still crying when talking to reporters.
"Today I go for Astrid and I promised her to go fast," said Weng, a 22-year-old who was making her first Olympic start. "I had more power today to go for Astrid."
Bjoergen entered the race as a big favorite and didn't disappoint. She was the most successful athlete of the Vancouver Games with three gold medals, a silver and a bronze, and she showed right away she has the ability to match that feat in Sochi.
Having said this week she'd be happy with only one gold, she now has to set a more ambitious target.
"One gold was my goal, so now I can relax a little bit," Bjoergen said. "I think anything is possible."