Ole Einar Bjørndalen

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Ole Einar Bjørndalen : biography

27 January 1974 –

As of March 2012, Bjørndalen has won six Olympic gold medals, four silver and a bronze, as well as 18 World Championship gold medals, eleven silver and nine bronze (more than anybody in biathlon history). In addition, he has a record 93 World Cup victories and 160 podium finishes. He also finished in the top 3 of the Overall World Cup rankings for a record thirteen successive seasons between the 1996–97 and 2008–09 seasons. As well as being the most decorated biathlete in history, he is generally viewed as the greatest biathlete of all time.

Bjørndalen resides in the village of Obertilliach, Austria. He also used to live in Toblach, Italy, with Italian-Belgian biathlete Nathalie Santer. They’ve been dating since 1998 and got married on 27 May 2006. On 4 October 2012 they filed for divorce on mutual agreement.

Career

2005/06 World Cup season

Bjørndalen finished the 2005/06 IBU Biathlon World Cup season in first place, with Frenchman Raphaël Poirée in second place and German Sven Fischer in third. Bjørndalen lay in third place in the standings going into the last three races of the season in Holmenkollen, with Poiree in first, and Fischer in second. However Bjørndalen won all three races, giving him six victories in the last eight races, and clinching the crystal globe. He also won the pursuit, and the mass start title, and came second in the individual and the sprint. In the pursuit he finished ahead of Fischer by 54 points, and 29 points ahead of Poiree in the mass start. In the individual he finished 41 points behind Michael Greis, and in the sprint he was 5 points behind Tomasz Sikora. Norway finished fourth in the team relay.

His winning the World Cup title was all the more spectacular because of a cold he developed over the last Christmas period, in which he missed races 5 to 11, only coming back for the three events in Antholz, Italy, starting on 19 January 2006, this being the last World Cup competition before the 2006 Winter Olympics. During his illness Bjørndalen spent eight days in bed, and only started training six days before the first race in Antholz, including in his preparations two high intensity skiing sessions but no shooting practice. Probably that is one of the major reasons for his not-as-expected performance at the Winter Olympics in Turin. His not so fast skiing and unsecure shooting along with extremely bad luck left him without any gold medal and "only" with 2 silver and 1 bronze medals. It’s a pity that his best and superhuman performance came at the relay event, where at the 3rd exchange he found Norway on 10th place about 2:40 minutes behind. By incredibly fast skiing, extremely fast and non-failure shooting Bjørndalen managed to reach the 5th place, having decreased 1:20 minutes. His absence from the races during the season and him still being able to win the championship further fuels the discussion of whether there are too many races in the World Cup schedule and whether athletes should be advised to sit some out.

Bjørndalen closed out the season by winning all three events (sprint, pursuit, and mass start) at the Holmenkollen ski festival biathlon competition. This put his career victories at the ski events to five, having won once both in 2003 (pursuit) and in 2004 (sprint).

2006/07 World Cup season

Bjørndalen made a perfect start to the season, winning all of the first five races in Östersund and Hochfilzen. In the fifth race of the season, the pursuit race in Hochfilzen, he won with one of his largest margins ever, more than 2 minutes. On 30 December 2006 Bjørndalen took part in the famous Biathlon World Team Challenge in Gelsenkirchen (Veltins Arena, the Schalke 04’s stadium). In front of about 51 000 people he won it for 4th time in a row. His partner for second consecutive time was Linda Grubben. They both left their greatest rivals, the Robert family, more than 1 minute behind. In Oberhof, coming down from training in the heights, he performed below standard for the season, shooting bad, and finishing only 30th and 5th in the individual competitions. In Ruhpolding Ole started good as usual by leading his team-mates to victory in the relay event. In the 2 following individual competitions he cormfirmed he was back on track winning the 2 individual competitions. Since he participated in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Sapporo 2007, he missed several Biathlon World Cup events, and after missing 8 competitions altogether Bjørndalen finished second in the overall standings, after German Michael Greis.