ROSA KHUTOR, Russia: Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen could win a record six medals at the Sochi Winter Olympics but said she will be content with one individual triumph.
Norway is the traditional powerhouse in the sport, with a total of 35 Olympic golds followed by Scandinavian rivals Sweden, with 27.
Four years ago in Vancouver, Bjoergen became the ninth athlete to win five medals in a single Winter Games (three gold, a silver and a bronze) and can become the first competitor to achieve the feat twice.
If she wins six medals she would break that record and also smash Bjorn Daehlie’s record of total medals won (12) at a Winter Games.
Bjoergen trails fellow Norwegians Therese Johaug and Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobson in the World Cup standings on a leaderboard also including another Norwegian, Heidi Weng, in fourth spot.
The 33-year-old said last weekend that her win in the 10 km classic individual start World Cup event in Toblach, Italy, had given her confidence for Sochi but she is keeping her ambitions in check.
“My goal is to take one gold medal. It’s hard to say [which]because I’m the favorite at every distance,” Bjoergen said on Thursday. She may compete in up to four individual events and two relay competitions.
“I can understand others may think it looks too easy [to only win one], but I know how difficult it is,” she added. “There are lots of other strong girls and I have to be in good shape.”
Poland’s reigning 30km mass start classic Olympic champion Justyna Kowalczyk is again expected to be a medal challenger, having claimed the 2012/13 overall World Cup title and American Kikkan Randall is another one to watch.
In the men’s events, Norway’s double Olympic gold medalist Petter Northug will be looking to follow up his overall 2012/13 World Cup title with more success in Sochi.
Sweden’s Johan Olsson is likely to challenge for medals together with countrymen Marcus Hellner and Emil Joensson.
Northug is currently fourth in the World Cup standings behind compatriots Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Chris Andre Jesperse and Russia’s Alexander Legkov.
In the Nordic combined— which features cross country as well as ski jumping—Germany’s Eric Frenzel is an overwhelming favorite to win a gold medal.
He is top of the World Cup standings ahead of Japan’s Akito Watabe, and Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen. Frenchman Jason Lamy Chappuis, who won a gold in Nordic combined in Vancouver, is in fourth spot.