Bjoergen a golden girl once again Bodacious Bode gets super-G silver
By MATTIAS KAREN
WHISTLER, British Columbia — Having finally ended her long wait for an Olympic gold medal, Marit Bjoergen sure was in a hurry to get another one.
The Norwegian cross-country skier became the first double gold-medal winner of the Vancouver Olympics yesterday after a dominant victory in the women's 15-kilometer pursuit.
After leaving the Salt Lake City and Turin Olympics with just a silver medal from each, the four-time world champion seems right at home atop the podium at these games.
"I knew that I was in great shape, but to take two golds, I never dreamed about it," said Bjoergen, who won the individual classical sprint Wednesday. "It still hasn't dawned on me."
Bjoergen pushed the pace much of the way to distance herself from her rivals midway through the freestyle portion of the race. Although her victory never looked in doubt after that, there was plenty of drama surrounding the other medals.
In a three-way fight for the silver medal, Anna Haag of Sweden pulled away from pre-race favorite Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland and Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway in the final sprint for her first Olympic medal.
Kowalczyk then took the bronze in a photo finish — even though Steira's name initially came up as the third-place finisher on the scoreboard. After reviewing footage of the finish, race official determined that the front of Kowalczyk's boot had passed the line a fraction of a second before the Norwegian's, as both lunged their legs forward at the last moment.
"Normally, I'm very bad at the finish line," Kowalczyk said. "But I have long legs. ... I'm very sorry for Kristin."
It was a cruel ending for Steira, who also had three fourth-place finishes in Turin and has yet to win an Olympic medal.
"I was just fighting with all I had. Today it wasn't enough," Steira said.
The race featured a mass start with skiers using the classical style for the first half, then switching to freestyle over the last 7.5 kilometers.