Cross country: Bjoergen leads rare Norwegian sweep

Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:52am EST
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By Julien Pretot

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Marit Bjoergen laid down another marker as she claimed a record-equaling sixth Winter Olympics gold medal, leading a Norwegian sweep in the cross-country 30km freestyle at the Sochi Games on Saturday.

Bjoergen, the first Norwegian woman to win a 30km event at the Games, pulled ahead of Therese Johaug with a late burst of acceleration and Kristin Stoermer Steira took the bronze.

"I am not thinking about how many medals I have," the soft-spoken Bjoergen told a news conference.

"This 30km had been a motivation for me, it was this distance I wanted a medal on. It's a revenge from the relay and for all the waxing guys," she added in reference to Norway's miserable fifth place in the 4x5km relay last Saturday, which they blamed on poor skis.

"So the record is not meaning a lot to me right now."

After 10km, Johaug, Steira and Bjoergen split from the field and never looked back, with favorite Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland retiring midway through the race.

"I got hit by somebody in the first stage and I tried to continue but it (the pain) was more than I could bear. It was not in the place where I had my (foot) injury," Kowalczyk said.

Bjoergen joined speed skater Lidia Skoblikova (former Soviet Union) and cross-country skier Lyubov Yegorova (Soviet |Union and Russia) as the women with the most Winter Olympics gold medals.   Continued...

Winner Norway's Marit Bjoergen (C) celebrates next to her compatriots, second placed Therese Johaug (L) and third placed Kristin Stoermer Steira during a flower ceremony for the women's cross-country 30 km mass start free event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth