Bjørgen banks on her winnings

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During the last eight days, Norway’s Marit Bjørgen has firmly outpaced the world’s cross country skiing elite. In addition to racking up points in the women’s World Cup events, she has earned NOK 378,000, (about USD 60,000) by winning five times in a row in Sweden and Finland.

GALLIVARE, SWEDEN - NOVEMBER 20: Margit Bjoergen of Norway competes during the 10km freestyle event at the FIS Cross-Country World Cup on November 20, 2010 in Gallivare, Sweden. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images For BMW)

“It feels good to make almost as much in a week as (Norwegian soccer star) John Arne Riise, for at least one week in the year,” Bjørgen told newspaper Aftenposten.

Last week she won the 10-kilometer race in Gällivare in Sweden. She also ran for the winning team in the relay in Gällivare. In Kuusamo on the Finnish Arctic Circle, she won the sprint, the 5-kilometer and the combined victory in the Tour de Kuusamo. The international skiing federation FIS has rewarded her performance with the equivalent of USD 60,000, in Swiss francs.

GALLIVARE, SWEDEN - NOVEMBER 20: Margit Bjoergen of Norway celebrates winning the 10km freestyle event at the FIS Cross-Country World Cup on November 20, 2010 in Gallivare, Sweden. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images For BMW)

If she had kept up this rate of earnings through the remaining 51 weeks of the year, she would be making about the same as many European professional soccer players; as much as USD 3.4 million a year.

“Of course I’m making good money, but I do this because it’s increadible fun,” she says.

During the last few days she has banked a sum close to the average annual wage for a Norwegian industrial worker.  Nevertheless, a few seconds either way can make a lot of difference in terms of prize money. In the intense cold at Kuusamo in Finland over the weekend, she slowed down once she was in the lead, thus losing the prize for fastest heat, costing her a cool USD 5,000. Instead this passed to her teammate Therese Johaug, who had previously only managed 72nd place in the sprint and 14th in the 5-kilometer race.

Unlike leading soccer players who generally get paid regularly, Bjørgen now has a long rest before her next race in La Clusaz in France the last weekend before Christmas  and the World Cup sprint in Liberec in the Czech Republic on the 15th and 16th of January.

Shortly after that, the Norwegian team for the Nordic Skiing World Championships in Oslo will be chosen. Marit Bjørgen won’t have to worry, though. Her place on the team is a foregone conclusion.

Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll
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