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The first FIS superstar

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January 30th, 1924. In Chamonix the International Winter Sports Week (later recognised as the first Winter Olympics) was in full swing. It was the day of the 50km cross-country race – and the day that the first Winter Olympics superstar was born. 

The conditions for the race were not good. Reporters noted the "dreadful cold" and "terrible storm". A dozen of the 33 starters would not even make the finish line. Yet out of the pack came one stand-out athlete, surging far ahead of his rivals: Thorleif Haug.  

The Norwegian was already riding high, with a haul of wins under his belt from World Championships and the Holmenkollen Ski Festival. During the 50km he took his career to the next level. Haug – along with three of his countrymen – ran the Swedes, Finns and Italians into the ground. In this race with individual starts, he was by the end an astonishing two minutes ahead of the second-placed skier, with the fifth place finisher over 20 minutes behind Haug and the tenth almost 45 minutes. 

And it went on. Three days later he took gold in the 18 km and then, having won the Nordic Combined ski jumping, another gold in that discipline. Haug’s victory lap was rounded off with a bronze in ski jumping, making a legendary haul. Today he is still warmly remembered in his home nation, with a statue in Drammen, streets named after him, and the annual Thorleif Haug Ski Festival. For FIS, Thorleif Haug will always be the first true superstar in the history of our sport.