Pregnant ski queen drops next season

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Marit Bjørgen, Norway’s international queen of the cross-country ski trails, announced Tuesday that she won’t be taking part in competition this coming winter season. That’s because Bjørgen and her partner Fred Børre Lundberg are expecting their first child in December.

Marit Bjørgen has won lots of medals and had lots of sponsors over the years, like here at the World Championships in Oslo in 2011. Strict Olympic rules, however, are now causing challenges. PHOTO: Ski VM/Petter Næss

Multiple gold medal winner Marit Bjørgen now has something else to smile about: “I’ll be a mama in December,” she told reporters on Tuesday. PHOTO: Ski VM/Petter Næss

Bjørgen has won every major race in Nordic skiing, from multiple World Championships and Olympic gold medals to the gruelling Tour de Ski. Her overwhelming domination of last season’s World Cup competition left her with little left to win, setting off speculation over whether she’d “go out on top” after, by all accounts, a brilliant career.

The 35-year-old Norwegian ski queen from Sør-Trøndelag said she intended to keep skiing competitively, though, and she took part in the national team’s summer pre-season training in the mountains of central Norway earlier this month. But at a gathering of the national ski team in Hemsedal on Tuesday, Bjørgen told reporters: “I’m going to drop a bomb. I’ll be a mama in December.”

Aiming to return to the trails in 2017
She said she intends to make a comeback in 2017 “if all goes well.” That means she still hopes to take part in the World Championships in Lahti and probably also the next Winter Olympics in Pyiongchang, South Korea in 2018.

“I really look forward to the time after the birth, and to have a baby in my arms,” she told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). At the same time, she already feels many of the same worries most expectant mothers do.

“You take on responsibility for a child, that will be something completely new,”Bjørgen said. “The time of only thinking about yourself is over. There will be other things in life that will mean something.” She said she worries about how she’ll tackle that, “but that’s probably normal thoughts,” she said with a smile.

‘Tante (Auntie) Therese’
Meanwhile, she plans to continue taking part in gatherings of the national team and training “as long as my form allows.” She won’t push herself to the maximum like she normally does, though.

Her teammates were cheering on her behalf, not least Bjørgen’s good friend and biggest rival Therese Johaug. “First and foremost I’m just so incredibly glad on Marit’s behalf,” Johaug told NRK. “I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. I just look forward to being a reserve auntie.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund