The Best There Ever Was

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen retired at the end of the 2017/2018 season. His legacy is a unique treasure for all biathlon greats yet to come.

He came to Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Winter Games just 20 years old,a junior indeed and he came to see and to learn. It was Russia and Germany that dominated the Lillehammer 1994 games for Russians and Germans took all the medals in men’s competition but bronze in the relay. No wonder, they were not allowed to cast second best teams and France landed in third. But there was a trace in Ole Einar Bjoerndalen already at the Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Winter Games that has never left him. Never. Obsession with the perfection, obsession with the detail, for truly great men know it is the details that will eventually make the difference, it is the details the will make somebody outstanding champion and the rest of the best wondering what might have been have they had the same dedication. When Martin Fourcade of France - Bjoerndalen’s natural successor and the men as obsessed with control of his inner and outer world as Bjoerndalen ever was - arrived at the PyeongChang BMW IBU World Cup pre-olympic competition in early March 2017 the first person he saw at the stadium was . . . Bjoerndalen. The owner of all the records one can think of was already planning for the games, looking a year ahead, eliminating as much uncertainty as humanly possible. “I am interested in waxing and the technical aspects of tuning skis. I do a lot of waxing with my training skis, but for races I don’t get to spend much time in the wax room,” explains Bjoerndalen. “I typically test 10 to 12 pairs of skis the day before a race, and prior to the race season, I test maybe 200 pairs in order to find those 10 to 12 pairs that stand out. All the top racing skis are really good. But some pairs are damned good, and those are the ones I’m after. Some seasons I have to test more to find them, sometimes I find them right away.” Grand Slam at the Salt Lake City 2002

Bjoerndalen arrived at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games at the peak of his biological powers. Just turning 28 years old he was full of vigor, his obsession with the detail supported by gracious forces of the nature and who on earth was there to stop him, to deny him the quest for glory and sporting immortality? Already winning his first Olympic gold medal in sprint at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games he clearly knew how to handle the pressure at the greatest summit of winter sport. In his summer months he must have set his mind on Salt Lake City and Salt Lake City only for it was French Raphael Poiree who won BMW IBU World Cup overall title at the end of the Olympic season with Bjoerndalen finishing merely third. But Salt Lake City turned out Bjoerndalen City or how else to describe gold medals in Sprint, Pursuit, Individual and Relay men, achieving the unprecedented grand slam of biathlon? Bjoerndalen didn’t stop after Salt Lake City 2002. His has always been a very intimate and very intense quest for finding ever-new ways to improve, to reach for the stars from different perspectives. “It fascinates me the most to find out how one can rebuild his body and mind in the summer months again and again in order to set new goals and then try to achieve them,” said Bjoerndalen in 2008. He was 34 years old but knew his body and mind so well that he said he saw no problem competing at the highest level well beyond being forty. He won two silver and one bronze medal at the Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games, added fifth gold in relay men at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and then defied all odds at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games winning in sprint and mixed relay, checking his seventh and eight gold in his Olympic medals balance sheet. Add to that six IBU World Cup Overall Titles, 45 medals from IBU World Championships and don’t even start counting his IBU World Cup wins, let alone podiums. You might need a day or so to go through all his incredible achievements.

Participated in

  • Olympic Winter Games
  • Gold Medals (8): Sprint Nagano 1998, Individual Salt Lake City 2002, Sprint Salt Lake City 2002, Pursuit Salt Lake City 2002, Relay Salt Lake City 2002, Relay.
  • Vancouver 2010, Sprint Sochi 2014, Mixed Relay Sochi 2014.
  • Silver.

  • IBU World Championships
  • 20 Gold Medals: Team Pokljuka 1998; Sprint Khanty-Mansiysk 2003, Mass Start Khanty-Mansiysk 2003; Sprint Hochfilzen 2005, Pursuit Hochfilzen 2005, Mass Start Hochfilzen 2005, Relay Hochfilzen 2005; Sprint Antholz-Anterselva 20.

  • BMW IBU World Cup Individual Titles (20)
  • Individual (1): 2004/2005.
  • Sprint (9): 1994/1995, 1996/1997, 1997/1998, 1999/2000, 2000/2001, 2002/2003, 2004/2005, 2007/2008, 2008/2009.
  • Pursuit (5): 1999/2000, 2002/2003, 2005/2006, 2007/2008, 2008/2009.

  • Sprint: Oberhof 1996/1997, Ruhpolding 1996/1997; Antholz-Anterselva 1997/1998, Nagano 1997/1998; Hochfilzen 1998/1999; Oberhof 1999/2000; Antholz-Anterselva 2000/2001, Ruhpolding 2000/2001, Antholz-Anterselva 2000/2001, Salt Lake City 2000/2001; Hochfilze