January 9, 2014 / 5:15 PM / 5 years ago

Bjoergen remains benchmark in cross-country

(Reuters) - Marit Bjoergen is just looking to win one more gold medal at the Sochi Olympics - a relatively modest goal after the Norwegian cross-country skier’s haul made her the most successful athlete at the 2010 Games.

Norway's Marit Bjorgen skis to win the women's prologue 2.5km classic individual World Cup ski race in Falun March 18, 2011. REUTERS/Anders Wiklund/SCANPIX

She remains the woman to beat in the sport following her five medals, three of them gold, at the last Olympics in Vancouver.

The 33-year-old Bjoergen would settle for just one more title in Russia in February, where she says she could compete in all six cross-country team and individual events.

“My goal is one individual gold. I know how hard it is, you have to have a good day, there can also be some problems with the weather,” she told Reuters.

Bjoergen, who developed her strength growing up on a farm, has a reputation as being approachable and down to earth despite her success in one of her country’s favorite sports.

Her triumph in 2010 and subsequent domination of the sport represent a spectacular comeback after a series of lean seasons that left her contemplating her future.

She decided to stick with it but made changes to her training program to focus more on core strength and started to eat more fish as part of a healthier diet.

She dispensed with a piercing in her eyebrow after being told it could sap energy and, more tellingly, called on the services of sports psychologist Britt Tajet-Foxell, who works with dancers at the Royal Ballet in London.

Polish rival Justyna Kowalczyk did strike a sour note in Vancouver, questioning whether Bjoergen would have won without clearance to use her asthma medication.


Bjoergen says she has learned to live with raised expectations after her success in Vancouver, having followed that with four golds in the world championships on home soil in 2011.

“I’m 33 and I think I know how to take this. For me, it’s important to relax and concentrate on what I want to do.”

Tajet-Foxell will also be in Sochi to offer Bjoergen advice which the skier says helps her to “think about how good I can be at my best, and what power I have.”

Regarded as a good team player, Bjoergen says she gets on well with younger team mates including Therese Johaug, whose glamorous image has won her endorsement deals with fashion brands in Norway.

“They give me motivation and are pushing me on in training,” she says of her younger colleagues.

The Norwegian has not competed in Sochi before but has been preparing for the Olympics at altitude in the Swiss Alps to get used to the likely conditions.

She plans to arrive in Russia a week before the Games open on February 7.

Bjoergen refuses to be drawn on whether this could be her last Olympics, saying she will review things after the end of the season in March.

“It’s hard to say, maybe this is my last Olympics,” she said. “If the motivation is gone, then I am finished.

Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik and Balazs Korany in Oslo; Writing by Keith Weir, Editing by Julien Pretot

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