Skiathlon gives Bjoergen 1st chance at Sochi gold

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2014 at 5:06 am •  Published: February 7, 2014
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SOCH, Russia (AP) — Marit Bjoergen left Vancouver four years ago as the most successful athlete of the 2010 Winter Olympics, with three gold medals, one silver medal and a bronze.

Anything less in Sochi for the Norwegian cross-country skier would probably be seen as a disappointment back home, where she is almost expected to win every race — starting with the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon on Saturday.

Bjoergen, though, is setting her goals a bit lower this time. One gold, she said, will be enough.

"I know how difficult it can be," Bjoergen said. "There are a lot of other strong girls and I have to be in good shape, with good skis and have a good day. I'm happy to get one Olympic gold medal."

Perhaps that's just a way of trying to keep the hopes of Norwegian fans in check. There's already talk about whether Bjoergen can get five golds in Sochi, and match her countryman Bjoern Daehlie's Winter Olympic record of eight for her career. Or at least get to six, like biathlon great Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. But that's taking things a bit too fast for Bjoergen.

"I'm here to do my best," the 33-year-old Bjoergen said. "I'm not thinking about Daehlie or Bjoerndalen. This might by my last Olympics."

In the opening skiathlon, her main competition will likely come from her teammates. At last year's world championships Norway swept the podium in the event, which sees skiers using the classical style for the first half before switching to freestyle. Therese Johaug, Heidi Weng and Kristin Stoermer Steira are all legitimate medal contenders this time as well.

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