Norway flag day, ski gold for folks back home

Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:29pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Norwegian cross country skier Marit Bjoergen became the first athlete to garner three gold medals in these Winter Olympics with a flag-waving final burst in the women's 4x5km relay on Thursday.

Day 13 of the Winter Games competition showed the two sides of the Olympic coin: the favorites like Bjoergen who win and the unknowns who serve the upsets, like the German skier who grabbed the women's giant slalom gold.

Bjoergen, 29, said she knew the race "was going to go my way" and she could afford to take the Norwegian flag and ski without poles in the final meters to her fourth podium finish, three golds and a bronze.

German skier Viktoria Rebensburg, who has yet to win on the World Cup circuit, was surprised to find herself emerging from the foggy course of the delayed giant slalom with gold.

"I think it is going to take me a few days to realize it," she said, ruing that her parents missed her big day because they could not change their flight home after the weather delay.

Rebensburg's gold put Germany at the top of the Olympic gold medal table with eight, one over the United States, Canada and Norway with just four days left in the Games.

The medal ranking could shift soon, however, as the American and Canadian women face off in the ice hockey final, a possible harbinger of what is to come in men's hockey.

Canada also has medal hopes in the women's figure skating final later on Thursday.   Continued...

<p>Norway's Marit Bjoergen skis with national flag as she celebrates her team's victory in women's 4x5 kilometres relay classic/free cross-country skiing final event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, February 25, 2010. REUTERS/Issei Kato</p>