Marit Bjorgen caps historic Olympics with more history
Marit Bjorgen’s historic 2018 PyeongChang Olympics ended with, you guessed it, more history.
Bjorgen punctuated her storybook career with her 15th Olympic medal and her eighth gold medal Sunday by winning the women’s 30km mass start to close out the PyeongChang Games.
The 37-year-old leaves PyeongChang as the most decorated Winter Olympian, a mark she broke by taking bronze as part of Norway's team in the women’s team sprint.
"When I look behind me and see what I have done," Bjorgen said, "it's incredible. It has been an amazing career for me, this is my last Olympics and to finish like this is incredible.
"I'm very proud of myself to do what I've done. It's been an incredible career for me and after being a mum, it's hard to stay away from home. These three weeks, I was away from my son also. It's been tough and to finish like this is amazing."
Her eight golds move her into a tie with Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Bjoern Daehlie for the most gold medals by a Winter Olympian. Bjorgen won gold in the 30km in Sochi four years ago.
She's one of two cross-country skiers to have multiple Olympic medals in the 30km. Bjorgen earned a medal in each of her events at these Games – two golds, a silver and two bronzes.
"I came to these Olympics to fight for one individual gold medal," Bjorgen said, "and I didn't have it before the 30km and I knew that was the distance for me. I like these conditions.
"I knew that I had good skis on these conditions. I knew everything was there for me if I had a good body."
Bjorgen's five medals were the most by any athlete at these Winter Games.
Bjorgen finished the 30km in 1 hour, 22 minutes, 17.6 seconds.
Krista Parmakoski, of Finland, captured the silver and Stina Nilsson, of Sweden, took home bronze.
Parmakoski finished 1 minute, 49.5 seconds behind Bjorgen and Nilsson, 1 minute, 58.9 seconds.
Norway leaves PyeongChang with a record 39 Olympic medals and 14 cross-country medals. The Norwegians reached the podium in all but one cross-country event.
Bjorgen’s gold medal was Norway’s seventh cross-country gold and 14th gold of the PyeongChang Games. The 14 golds are tied with Germany for most of these Games.
The 14 gold medals by Norway and Germany tie a Winter Olympic record previously set by Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
"The future is good for Norway," Bjorgen said. "They've always got younger athletes who are coming up and I think that's the reason why we are so good, that we always have some new people who are coming up and they have some idols to see.
"After these Olympics, maybe we get some more boys and girls coming up. If they do cross-country or something else, Alpine skiing or skating, it looks good for the future."
After winning the United States' first Olympic gold medal and first medal in 42 years in the women's team sprint, Jessie Diggins placed in seventh place in the 30 km, finishing in 1 hours, 25 minutes, 54.7 seconds.
Diggins and Kikkan Randall, her team sprint teammate, depart PyeongChang as the first American women cross-country skiers to win an Olympic medal.
The 26-year-old Diggins will carry the U.S. flag during the Closing Ceremony.
"I was thinking I might just have one of the bobsledders give me a piggyback ride," Diggins said. "Hopefully, going to get out of here, have a nice quick dinner and get a little energy.
"I'm so psyched to carry the flag. It's such a huge honor. It's very humbling and inspiring that all the other athletes are so pumped on cross-country skiing and it's going to be really, really cool to march with them."