By Philip O’Connor
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Norway’s Marit Bjoergen cemented her place as the greatest ever Winter Olympian with a relay bronze medal on Wednesday, but with the 30km classic mass start still to come, she is not quite ready to ski off into the sunset just yet.
Bjoergen surpassed compatriot Ole Einar Bjoerndalen’s tally of 13 Winter Games medals in biathlon, earning her 14th in a furious relay that ended in a shock win for Americans Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall.
“I had a dream about that (breaking the record), but you never know. My goal was fighting for one individual gold and I don’t have it yet, I still have the possibility to do it, so we’ll see,” Bjoergen told reporters.
“I’ve taken medals in every race I’ve been in, so I’m happy with that,” she added.
Tenth in the World Cup standings, the diminutive Bjoergen has collected a gold (4x5km relay), silver (15km skiathlon) and two bronze (10km freestyle and team sprint) in Pyeongchang.
“I think it’s hard to understand. I think when I’ve stopped skiing I can think about what I have done,” she said, adding that she wouldn’t be around in four years’ time when the Games take place in Beijing.
While waiting to take her place on the podium, Bjoergen had an unimpeded view as Johannes Klaebo crossed the line to win the men’s event, his third gold of the games and a possible threat to Bjoergen’s new record.
“Johannes is a young guy and everything is possible for him. He’s amazing he has three golds here, he’s a very good guy for the future. We will see more of him,” she said.
Asked to look back over her career, the 37-year-old Bjoergen revealed which Olympic triumph was her favorite.
“My first gold individual, in Vancouver, was special because I had some problems for three years, and then come back again and was at a high level and fighting for all the medals in Vancouver, that was special for me.”
The end may be approaching, but Bjoergen still has one more medal in her sights to add to her seven gold, four silver and three bronze ones.
“If someone had told me in 2002 that I would be still standing here, still skiing here, I’d have thought that it’s not possible, but I am here and I’m still fighting for medals,” she said.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ed Osmond)