Cross country: Norway smooth out waxing problems with podium sweep

Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:14am EST
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By Annika Breidthardt

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Norway finally made peace with their cross-country skiers on Saturday when three of their women outclassed the rest of the field to drape the podium in Norwegian colors in the 30km freestyle race.

Marit Bjoergen won a record-equaling sixth Winter Olympics gold medal after she broke away with team mates Therese Johaug, who leads the overall World Cup, and Kristin Stoermer Steira, who claimed her first Olympic medal in an individual race.

"It's revenge from the relay and for all the waxing guys," Bjoergen told reporters after shaking off her team mates over the last two kilometers of the race.

Norway's cross-country skiers were in crisis earlier in the Games when neither men nor women lived up to expectations, failing to win a medal in the two relays.

With cross-country skiing arguably the most important sport in Norway, the women finished the relay in fifth after winning all the World Cup and world championship relays since the Vancouver Games, in which they also won gold.

The team, and much of the country, quickly blamed the waxers, saying they had failed to prepare the skis well for the warm snow conditions.

In a country of skiing aficionados, where a book on waxing can top national best-seller rankings, the failure to get the right balance between grip and slide topped media headlines and all the skiers had plenty to say about it too.

IGNORE COACHES   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