New ski queen breaks Skari’s record

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Norway’s reigning cross-country ski queen Marit Bjørgen is one of the few local winter sports stars who’s been doing really well this season, and she broke another record over the weekend. Even she, though, fell off her throne shortly thereafter.

Marit Bjørgen did well at last year's Olympics in Vancouver and seems to be Norway's greatest hope for more gold at next month's World Championships. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

Bjørgen has been doing her best to preserve Norway’s honor in the winter sports world this season, at a time when the men haven’t been performing very well at all. Neither cross country skiers like Petter Northug, biathlon stars like Ole Einar Bjørndalen nor downhill racers like Aksel Lund Svindal have met expectations.

The lack of Norwegians on the winners’ platform has been especially disappointing for sports fans during the run-up to next month’s Nordic Skiing World Championships at Holmenkollen in Oslo, because Norwegians demand winners on home turf.

Bjørgen, though, has keep spirits up and on Saturday she eclipsed a record set by former ski queen Bente Martinsen Skari when Bjørgen grabbed her 43rd World Cup victory at Otepää in Estonia.

“If someone had to beat me, it was good that it was Marit,” Skari told newspaper Aftenposten. “I’ve always seen that she has something special.” Bjørgen said she didn’t think Skari was happy that her record was broken, “but I think she’s happy on my behalf.”

Bjørgen bested Skari’s record by winning the women’s 10-kilometer classic with a time of 27 minutes and two seconds. Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland placed second and Therese Johaug, also of Norway, was third. For those of us who often use nearly two hours to ski 10 kilometers, Bjørgen’s time was indeed impressive.

But then she didn’t do as well on Sunday and according to news bureau NTB was “irritated and furious” that she only placed 10th in the classic sprint. She remains a favorite at the World Championships and, at this point, Norway’s biggest chance for medals next month.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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