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Monday, July 15, 2024

More OL thrills, even in bronze

Norwegian ski queen Marit Bjørgen made history yet again on Wednesday by claiming more medals than any Winter Olympian has before. Her latest was “only” bronze, after a thrilling sprint won by the US, but Norwegian men won gold and downhill racer Ragnhild Mowinckel won silver.

Skiers Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall won the US its first-ever gold medal in cross-country skiing, with Diggins racing up from behind to snatch it from both Sweden and Norway, both of which have had the powerhouse women’s ski teams in South Korea.

Norwegians were profuse with their praise for the American women, as Diggins and Randall received congratulatory hugs from Bjørgen and coaches called their victory “well-deserved.” One claimed to state broadcaster NRK that “it’s fantastic the USA takes the gold. It’s just fine that not only the Nordic countries win medals.”

(Editor’s note: Even this American writer quickly received messages of congratulations from Norwegian colleagues and friends here in Oslo, on the US’ victory!)

Bjørgen could console herself with her latest bronze medal (the Swedes won the silver) since it makes her the most-winning Winter Olympian of all time, with her medal total as of Wednesday standing at 14 over the past four Olympics: Seven are gold, four silver and now three bronze. She already was the most-winning women winter athlete, and now she’s surpassed Norwegian biathlon legend Ole Einar Bjørndalen as well.

Gold for the men
Just a few minutes later, the Norwegian men won their team sprint, with Johannes Høsflot Klæbo and Martin Johnsrud Sundby all but “playing” with the competitors. Klæbo and Sundby were widely viewed as dominating the race in what commentator Jann Post “a masterful and tactical triumph” that impressed everyone watching. A team of Russians took silver while the French won bronze.

It mined the young Klæbo’s third gold medal at the Olympics, while Sundby shared two gold medals, both from relays.

Second silver for Mowinckel
Norwegians also woke up Wednesday to another silver medal for Norwegian downhill racer Ragnhild Mowinckel. She finished nine-tenths of a second behind Sofia Goggia of Italy, and ahead of Lindsey Vonn of the US, who’s been speaking proudly of her Norwegian ancestry lately.

Mowinckel was shedding tears of joy after winning her second silver medal in South Korea, the first ever won by a Norwegian in women’s alpine skiing. “Give me a bit of time here,” she told reporters gathering around her, “I haven’t managed to take this in yet.” She went on to say that she had simply decided to maintain high speed all the way down the mountain. “I made a few small mistakes, I was shocked when I saw the results board. Everyone is skiing so well here.”

Medals goal met, and surpassed
Former Norwegian alpine skiing champion Kjetil André Aamodt, now a commentator for TV Norge during the Olympics, said Mowinckel’s victory “was just so deserved.” He claimed she skied “error-free” the whole way, but could just keep training before the next Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022.

Norway’s hockey team, meanwhile, had made it into Olympics quarter-finals for the first time but didn’t do well enough to stay in the game on Wednesday. They beat Slovenia on Tuesday, but the Norwegian national hockey team was all but crushed by the OUR team of Russian players, with a score of 6-1.

Norway has nonetheless surpassed its official goal of 30 medals at the Olympics, by winning 32 as of mid-day Wednesday Norwegian time. That breaks all previous records for Norway, with competition running through the week. Berglund



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