2018 Winter Olympics: Norse Gods and Goddesses

Cross-country racers and jumpers who have dominated the Winter Games. By Bob Woodward

To be a dominant cross-country skier come the Olympics is to be a sprinter, a middle-distance ace and a marathoner. It’s tough. Ask Finland’s Juha Mieto, who took silver in both the men’s 15- and 50-kilometer events at the 1980 Lake Placid Games. In the 15K, Mieto went full bore from the start. In the 50K, he set a steady, workmanlike pace until the fast final ten kilometers. Unfortunately, Mieto doesn’t make the “dominant” list, as Soviet skier Nikolay Zimyatov won three gold medals (in the 30K, the 50K and the 4x10 relay) to rule the Lake Placid Olympics.

On the women’s side, Soviet great Alevtina Kolchina paved the way for those who came to rule the Games—among them, Galina Kulakova and Raisa Smetanina. It’s interesting to speculate how those two would do today in the skate/freestyle events. After all, they were easily the two most gifted and dominant athletes in the sport for years.



1924 Thorleif Haug

1957 Sixten Jernberg

1964 Sixten Jernberg

1980 Nikolay Zimyatov

1992 Bjørn Daehlie and Vegard Ulvang


*Special mention to Gunde Svan for multiple medals in 1984 and 1988, and Thomas Alsgaard for medalling in 1994,1998 and 2002 



1968 Toini Gustafsson

1972 Galina Kulakova

1976 Raisa Smetanina

1984 Marja-Liisa Hamalainen

2010 Marit Bjørgen

2014 Charlotte Kalla

*Special mention to Stefania Belmondo for medals in 1992,1994,1998 and 2002



Historically, the jumping medals have been broadly distributed among athletes and nations. It’s hard to be dominant, as newer and younger talents enter the sport yearly. But there have been exceptions, and they are:


1932, 1936, 1948 Birger Ruud

1984 Jens Weisflogg

1988 Matti Nykänen 



*Special mention goes to Simon Ammann with medals in 2002 and 2010

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