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Ole Einar Bjoerndalen Biography

Liked Target Shooting, Power Of Positive Thinking, Supreme At Soldier Hollow, Elevates Biathlon Status


Norwegian biathlete

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen listened to a vacuum cleaner salesman, then cleaned up at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Bjoerndalen, from Norway, won four gold medals in the biathlon, an event that combines cross-country skiing with target shooting. Amid an Olympiad that featured the stunning success of American figure skater Sarah Hughes, an enthralling gold-medal hockey game and a judging scandal in ice dancing, Bjoerndalen drew attention to an event many consider on the far fringe of sport.

Bjoerndalen took the gold in the 10-kilometer sprint, 20-kilometer individual, 12.5 km pursuit, and the 4×7.5 km relay. He became only the third person to win at least four gold medals in one winter Olympiad; speed skaters Eric Heiden of the United States and Lydia Skoblikova of Russia won five and four in 1980 and 1964, respectively. He credits Oyvind Hammer, a Dick Vitale style pitchman for Filter Queen vacuums and motivational speaker on the side, for elevating his confidence and consistency.

Sketch by Paul Burton

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen: Atypical Hero

Bjoerndalen's accomplishments are likely to be more highly regarded (outside) the United States. … He is the antithesis to many of the breakoutstars of these Olympics. No body piercings, no soul patch, no rad vocabulary … no trash talk. He's No. 1 with a bullet, that's all.

Source: Bragg, Beth. Anchorage Daily News, February 21, 2002.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBiathalon