Daehlie, Bjorn

Daehlie, Bjorn
▪ 1999

      Norwegian cross-country skiing legend Bjørn Dæhlie rocketed into the record books in 1998 by shattering the previous marks for gold medals and total medals won by an individual in Winter Olympics competition. With victories at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, in the 10-km race, 50-km race, and 4 ×10-km relay, he established himself as one of the greatest Nordic skiers of all time. "The Rocketman," as his adoring fans referred to Dæhlie, also claimed a silver medal in the 15-km race, which increased his impressive inventory to 8 gold medals and 12 overall.

      Born on June 19, 1967, in Råholt, Nor., Dæhlie was involved in several sports while growing up and did not focus on competitive Nordic skiing until his mid-teens. Despite his rather late entry into the sport, he rapidly ascended to the top of the World Cup circuit. Hailing from a country with a long history of success in cross-country ski racing, Dæhlie proved able to maintain the ferocity and mastery of his Norwegian predecessors, gaining 35 career World Cup victories, including 5 overall World Cup titles, and 14 world championship gold medals. His achievements in the Winter Olympics included three gold medals and one silver at the 1992 Games in Albertville, France, and two gold and two silver at Lillehammer, Nor., in 1994, in addition to the four medals at Nagano. His dominance in international competition led some in the cross-country world to confer upon him the moniker "King Bjørn."

      Dæhlie achieved superstar status in Norway, where he was featured in a top-selling autobiography, a line of sportswear, and a popular television show, "Men on Adventure," on which he traveled to exotic locations around the world and engaged in two favourite pastimes—hunting and cooking. There was even speculation that a new Oslo airport would be named in his honour.

      After his dramatic finish in the 50-km race at Nagano, in which he overtook the leader with eight kilometres (five miles) to go and then collapsed face-first in the snow at the finish line, Dæhlie stated, "Right now I feel I have finished my ski career. I've no motivation." One month later, however, he had apparently found motivation in the opportunity to share in the record for most overall Olympic gold medals (nine) or even to set a new mark. Though he planned on reducing his appearances at World Cup and other events over the next four years, Dæhlie was expected to go for the gold—and the record books—one last time at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.


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Universalium. 2010.

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