Norway has produced some of the finest talents in cross-country skiing, so let’s have a look at some of these legends.
Famous Norwegian Cross-Country Skiers
1. Norwegian Cross-Country Skiers in World War II
During World War ll, Germany was adamant about making a heavy water nuclear bomb. The transport of vast amounts of heavy water from a German hydroelectric plant known as Vemork, in Rjukan town of occupied Norway, was discovered.
Colonel Leif Tronstad, who had worked previously at Vemork as a scientist, decided to select well-trained skiers to destroy the facility. He first made a team of skiers called Grouse, led by Jens-Anton Poulsson, later strengthened by another team called Gunnerside.
The new team included expert skiing fighters like Joachim Rønneberg as the team leader. Other renowned team members were Knut Haukelid, Birger Stromsam, Fredrik Kayser, Kaspar Idland, and Hans Storhaug.
They were highly skilled cross-country skiers and had extensive knowledge of Rjukan. Finally, on 27th February 1943, Rønneberg and his team proceeded towards Vermork on their skis and found their way to the plant. They placed the explosives and skied away right in time. The explosions destroyed the entire facility and the equipment with it.
2. Marit Bjørgen
Marit is an exceptional cross country skier and athlete, as she has the highest number of medals ever won by an athlete in the Winter Olympics. Her fantastic display of skill won her 8 gold, 4 silver, and 3 bronze medals, which makes a total of 15 Olympic medals. Furthermore, she has been to the Olympics 5 times from 2002 to 2018.
Not only that, she tops the cross-country world cup charts with 114 victories that she got individually. On 6th April 2018, she bid farewell to cross country skiing, but she soon returned in 2020 to compete in Vasaloppet in March 2021.
3. Therese Johaug
Johaug was born on 25th June in 1988. She has won 4 golds, 1 silver, and 2 bronze medals in the Winter Olympics From 2010 to 2014. In the World Championships, she has won 10 gold medals from individual victories and 4 gold medals in relay races from 2011 to 2021. She also holds 2 silver and 3 bronze medals in World Championships.
In the Winter Olympics in Beijing held this year, she gave an outstanding performance in the cross-country skiing women’s 30 km mass start program. Her performance bagged her another gold medal. She also won another gold medal in the 15 km skiathlon cross-country skiing in the Winter Olympics 2022.
4. Bjørn Dæhlie
Bjørn Dæhlie is a Nordic Skier born on 19th June 1967 in Elverum city of Norway. He is undeniably the most exemplary cross-country skier in history, as he bagged 8 gold and 4 silver medals in 3 Olympic Games from 1992 to 1998. His Olympic victories also earned him the honor of having the most medals among male cross-country skiers.
Not only that, but he has also been a champion in international tournaments. He was known as “Rocket man” as he dominated 6 World Cups and won 14 gold medals in World Championship from 1992 to 1999. However, his career was cut short due to a back injury which forced him to take early retirement in 2001.
5. Johannes Høsflot Klæbo
Klæbo was born on 22nd October 1996 in Oslo, Norway. He started his skiing career in 2015. Soon after kick-starting his career, Johannes became the youngest ever cross country skier to win a World Cup at the age of 21. He also claimed 6 gold medals in the World Championship in 2017.
In the 2018 Winter Olympics, Johannes won 3 gold medals in a tough competition against Martin Fourcade in the biathlon event. Recently, during the Winter Olympics 2022, he bagged 2 gold medals, 1 silver, and 1 bronze medal in different cross-country skiing events.
6. Gunde Svan
Gunde Svan was born on 12th January 1962 in Vansbro, Sweden. With his skills, he achieved 6 medals in the Olympic Games held in 1984 and 1988. His numerous achievements include 5 World Cup titles and 7 gold medals in World Championships. He was the record holder for being the youngest to achieve a skiing gold medal in the Olympics at 22 years. Klæbo later broke his record in 2018.
7. King Olav V
From a young age, King Olav had a keen interest in athletics and participated in sports such as cross-country skiing and sailing from a young age. He was an exceptional cross-country skier. In his youth, he also participated in the ski-jumping competition held at Holmenkollen.
In 1984, the statue called “Skiglede” was erected in front of the large hill in Holmenkollen. Skigelde means “The Joy of Skiing,” and the statue is of King Olav skiing around with his beloved dog, Troll. It was erected to honor the King’s love for skiing.
8. Ole Einar Bjørndalen
Bjørndalen is a biathlete and coach from Norway who has now retired. He has 13 Winter Olympics gold medals to his name, only second to Martin Bjorgen, who has won 15 Olympic Medals in cross country skiing. That’s not all, he has won a whopping 45 medals in the Biathlon World Championships, hence he is called “King of Biathlon”.
Bjørndalen also holds the highest number of victories in the Biathlon World Cup tour. He has also won 6 World Cup titles in the years 1997, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008.
9. Vibeke Skofterud
Skofterud was born on 20th April 1980. She was a marvelous skier and had several victories to her name. She won a gold medal in the Winter Olympics in the relay event in Vancouver in 2010. Her first individual win was eighth in a 30 km gala in 2002, held in Salt Lake City. Her other achievements include 2 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze medal in the World Championships from 2003 to 2011.
She was an exceptional Norwegian cross-country skier who lost her life at the young age of 38 years.
10. Fridtjov Nansen
He was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, polymath, diplomat, and humanitarian. Above all, he was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for his efforts to help victims of WWI.
Nansen also led a team of cross-country skiers to cross the Greenland interior for the first time in 1888. Later, his Fram expedition, which he pursued from 1893 to 1896, earned him international recognition in the quest of reaching the North Pole, as he had reached as far north as 86°14′.
Even after he retired from exploration, he remained an inspiration to others. His improvements to existing equipment and clothing helped future generations lead expeditions across the Arctic and Antarctic lands. He died on 13th May 1930.