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Queen Marit

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February 17, 2018. On the programme of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang/KOR is the women's cross-country relay. As is almost always the case in cross-country, Norway is the favorite, but who knows? At a previous press conference, Scandinavian ski goddess Marit Bjørgen used a saying from her country: "Stafett er Stafett". A relay is a relay; anything can happen. 

It was a moment that made the unassailable, untouchable woman from Trondheim so close and human. Though Bjørgen was the superstar of cross-country skiing for almost two decades, she always approached her races humbly. 

Between October 2002, a sprint race in Düsseldorf, and the World Cup final in Falun in March 2018, Bjørgen won 114 World Cup races and 18 titles, as well as 8 other medals at World Championships between 2003 and 2017. This is not to mention her Olympic record; with eight gold, four silver and three bronze medals, she is the most successful Winter Olympian of all time across both genders. 

That day in Pyeongchang, Bjørgen needed two gold medals in her last two Olympic appearances to overtake her Norwegian compatriot and biathlete Ole-Einar Bjoerndalen. She did it – and how!  

At around 19:15 local time, the final duel between Bjørgen and Stina Nilsson loomed. The Swede had become Olympic sprint champion four days earlier and the Norwegian knew that she probably had not-so-good cards in a photo finish decision. And what did Bjørgen do? Launch the final sprint with a kilometer to go. Spectators wondered if she had gone way too early, been too bold – but the result is known. Bjørgen won gold for Norway, two seconds ahead of Nilsson. Another gold medal, another step towards immortality.