Bjoergen aiming to continue Norway's Skiathlon supremacy
KRASNAYA POLYANA - Cross country will start on Saturday 8 February, with the ladies 7.5km + 7.5km skiathlon at the Laura Cross Country venue.
- Skiathlon is on the programme for the Olympic Winter Games for only the third time since its debut at the Torino 2006 Games.
- No nation has managed to win more than one medal in the first two editions of this event. In Torino the medals went to Estonia, Czech Republic and Russia; while the Vancouver 2010 Games saw Norway, Sweden and Poland on the podium.
- Marit BJOERGEN (NOR) has won the last three skiathlons held in Olympic Winter Games and World Championships.
- BJOERGEN and the retired Kristina SMIGUN-VAHI (EST) are the only two athletes with more than one gold medal in this event at the Winter Games and World Championships combined.
- VAHI won the world title in 2003 (2x5km) and the Olympic gold medal in Torino 2006 (2x7.5).
- If BJOERGEN wins, she will be the oldest individual female Olympic Winter Games gold medallist in this sport. She will be 33 years and 324 days on Saturday making her older than Stefania BELMONDO (ITA), who was 33 years and 27 days when she won the 15km freestyle at the Salt Lake City 2002 Games.
- Norway took the first four places in this event in the last world championships, held in Val di Fiemme, Italy, in February 2013.
- Only once in Olympic history has a nation finished in the top four places in a cross country event. At the Squaw Valley 1960 Games, Maria GUSAKOVA, Lyubov BARANOVA, Radya YEROSHINA and Alevtina KOLCHINA took the first four places for the Soviet Union in the ladies 10km event.
- The last time a nation won all three medals in a women’s cross country event at the Olympic Winter Games came in the 20km freestyle at the Calgary 1988 Games, when Tamara TIKHONOVA, Anfissa RESZOVA and Raisa SMETANINA won the medals for Soviet Union.
Ladies skiathlon: Fact box
Event: Ladies skiathlon (15km: 7.5km classic style, 7.5km free)
Date: Saturday, 8 February
Venue: Laura cross country ski and biathlon centre
Start time: 14:00
Favourites: Marit BJOERGEN, Therese JOHAUG (NOR), Charlotte KALLA (SWE)
Other contenders: Justyna KOWALCZYK (POL), Yulia TCHEKALEVA (RUS), Heidi WENG (NOR), Kristin Stoermer STEIRA (NOR), Astrid Uhrenholdt JACOBSEN (NOR)
Vancouver 2010 medallists
Gold: Marit BJOERGEN (NOR)
Silver: Anna HAAG (SWE)
Bronze: Justyna KOWALCZYK (POL)
World champion 2013: Marit BJOERGEN (NOR) in Val di Fiemme, Italy
World cup leader 2013/14 (overall): Therese JOHAUG (NOR)