Cross-country skiing is seen as the greatest test of endurance, flexibility, skills, and speed in the skiing world. Athletes require endurance, speed, and strength in abundance in order to succeed in this winter sport. One of the first recorded cross-country skiing competitions took place in Tromso, Norway, back in 1843, and the sport has grown in popularity ever since. Cross-country skiing has its roots in Norway, so it is unsurprising to discover that some of the greatest ever cross-country skiers hail from the Scandinavian country.
Norway has produced some incredible cross-country specialists over the year. Norwegians often dominate the Olympics, World Cup, and World Championships, with the biggest and best online sportsbooks often pricing Norwegian skiers as firm favorites in the competitions they enter. The following trio of Norwegian cross-country skiers is considered the best in their field.
Bjørn Erlend Dæhlie
Bjørn Erlend Dæhlie is one of the most-decorated Norwegian athletes of all time. Dæhlie was born in June 1967 in Elverum, Norway, and he was very active as a child. He enjoyed fishing, hiking, hunting, and kayaking from an early age, but he had his heart set on becoming a footballer. However, one of his coaches suggested he try Nordic skiing, and he never looked back.
After dominating the domestic scene, Dæhlie was part of the Norwegian team at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. Although he never competed in any races, Dæhlie gained much experience from being around some of the best skiers from his native country.
The experience gained stood Dæhlie in good stead, and he soon became a dominant force on a global stage. During 11 seasons of the World Cup, Dæhlie has 81 individual podium finishes from 127 starts, including 46 victories. Dæhlie won the titles on six occasions in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1999.
His success continued into the Olympics, where he won 12 medals (eight gold, four silver), and in the World Championships, where Dæhlie captured 17 medals (nine gold, five silver, and three bronze).
Petter Northug is another retired Norwegian cross-country skier that enjoyed a glistening career. Many consider Northug to be the most excellent cross-country skier of all time. Everyone in the sport knew Northug had a bright future ahead of him, even when he was very young. The major ski manufacturers clambered over one another to supply Northug equipment, with Northug eventually putting pen to paper with Fischer.
With the financial backing of Fischer, Northug had the freedom to travel the world competing on the highest stage. Northug went on to win four medals at the Winter Olympics (two gold, one silver, one bronze), 16 World Championships medals (13 gold, three silver), and three World Cup titles. He spent 14 seasons battling in the World Cup, starting 219 races, reaching the podium 84 times, and winning 38 races.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo is the one skier in our article that is still actively competing today. The 26-year-old hails from Oslo, Norway, and already holds several cross-country skiing records. Klæbo was the youngest male in history to win the FIS Cross-Country World Cup, an Olympic event, a World Championship event, and the Tour de Ski in cross-country skiing.
Klæbo first competed in the Olympics in 2018. He finished 10th on his debut in the men’s skiathlon event before securing a trio of gold medals in his first-ever Olympics. Klæbo won another two golds, a silver, and a bronze at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
To date, Klæbo has started 100 individual competitions in the World Cup and finished on the podium 67 times, with 48 of those podium finishes ending with Klæbo in the winner’s circle. He already has ten World Cup season titles under his belt! The sprint specialist has many years of competitions ahead of him, and Klæbo will likely break many more records before he hangs up his skis.