Baby won’t halt ‘ski queen’s’ career

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Norway’s cross-country “ski queen” Marit Bjørgen gave birth to a baby boy on Christmas night but she’s not about to take off on maternity leave in the middle of ski season. National coach Egil Kristiansen told state broadcaster NRK just hours after the birth that Bjørgen was already plotting her racing comeback.

Norwegian ski queen Marit Bjørgen raked in more medals at this year's Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden, and will try to win more next season. PHOTO: Nordic Focus/FIS photo pool

Norwegian ski queen Marit Bjørgen, shown here with just some of the medals she won at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Sweden last spring, reportedly wants to get back out on the ski trails as soon as possible. She gave birth to a baby boy during the night. PHOTO: Nordic Focus/FIS photo pool

“Marit kept training right up to the birth,” Kristiansen said. “She’s in good shape. I think she can start training again quite quickly.”

He had hardly managed to congratulate Bjørgen and her partner, former top skier Fred Børre Lundberg, on the birth of their son before revealing that Bjørgen has already started thinking about dates for her return to the ski trails.

“If everything goes wll, Marit plans to compete again at the end of February or the beginning of March,” Kristiansen told NRK Saturday afternoon. “That’s the plan, so we’ll see.”

Bjørgen continued to train wih the women’s national ski team all through her pregnancy, which was announced at the end of last year’s winning season, after she had won everything there is to win in the world of international Nordic skiing competition. She kept skiing into December, knowing that her baby was due around Christmas.

Asked how big the chances were that Bjørgen could really be back in competition this winter, Kristiansen said they were “quite big. There are a few things that need to go the right way before that happens, but I think it’s absolutely possible.” Asked what the “few things” are, he said it had to do with things going well at home. “One thing is think about yourself, but other things can happen when you have to take someone else (the baby boy) into consideration also.”

NRK skiing commentator Jann Post agreed that it would be possible for Bjørgen to compete as early as at the end of February, but he doubted she’d wind up among the best skiers. “It would certainly be good for her to ski a few races to increase motivation into the long training periods in summer and fall,” Post said. “I don’t think she’ll beat (fellow Norwegian skiing champion Therese) Johaug this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she beats her next year.”

He noted how other top Norwegian athletes like cyclist Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå and biathlon star Liv Grete Skjelbreid made quick returns to the top of their sports after giving birth. “But I think Marit will take this one step at a time,” Post said. “And first and foremost she should remember to enjoy this new life situation.”

Neither Bjørgen nor Lundeberg would comment directly, opting instead to merely issue a press release about the birth through the Norwegian national skiing federation, Norges skiforbund. Lundeberg was present at the birth and stated that both mother and child were doing fine. “He is the world’s most beautiful little boy, and we are proud parents,” Bjørgen wrote in the release.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund