Marit Bjørgen, Meghan Duggan the latest Winter Olympic stars to run NYC Marathon

Marit Bjørgen

Marit Bjørgen and Meghan Duggan are set to become the latest Winter Olympic gold medalists to run the New York City Marathon.

Bjørgen, the Winter Olympic record holder with 15 medals, and Duggan, who captained the U.S. women’s hockey team to gold at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, plan to do the five-borough race on Nov. 6.

Both are retired athletes with two kids. Both are charity runners — Bjørgen for AKTIV Against Cancer and Duggan for the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Bjørgen, a Norwegian cross-country skier, retired after her fifth Olympics in 2018. Cross-country skiers’ endurance talent usually crosses over well into the marathon.

Her goal is to break three hours, according to Norwegian media.

Kikkan Randall, who with Jessie Diggins became the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing champions in 2018, ran the 2019 NYC Marathon in 2:55:12. She beat her three-hour goal, one year after her final round of chemotherapy for stage 2 breast cancer.

Billy Demong, the first U.S. Olympic gold medalist in Nordic combined (which combines cross-country skiing and ski jumping), ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33.05.

Other Winter Olympic stars to complete the NYC Marathon include short track speed skater Apolo Ohno (2011, 3:25:14) and luger Erin Hamlin (2018, 4:52:52).

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Cross-country skiing World Cup sets equal distances for women, men

Cross-Country Skiing World Cup

World Cup cross-country skiing races are set to be the same distances for women and men next season after women historically had shorter races outside of sprints.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) cross-country committee, made up of members of national federations, approved the change by a 57 percent vote.

All committee decisions are subject to approval by the FIS council on May 26.

“The main argument to vote for equal distances was that there should not be any question whether women were capable of racing the same distances as men, as they prove that they physically are capable of doing so already,” according to a FIS press release. “The main argument against was the time that women need to cover the same distance as men and the effective TV time.”

Women and men would also race the same distances at junior world championships and the Youth Olympics. FIS will decide next May whether to implement the change at the biennial world championships. Often, changes in sports’ world championships programs precede changes to the Olympic program.

Currently, the Olympic cross-country skiing program has different distances for the interval start race (10km for women, 15km for men), skiathlon (15km for women, 30km for men), mass start (30km for women, 50km for men) and relay (4x5km for women, 4x10km for men).

The new World Cup format will have 10km, 20km and 50km races, plus the skiathlon at 20km. FIS did not say in its release how relay distances will change.

The mass start is particularly notable as it is considered the marathon of winter sports and, like the track and field equivalent, is held on the final weekend of the Olympics. The men’s mass start is actually longer than a marathon (31 miles), while the women’s mass start is 18.6 miles. The men’s race takes about a half-hour longer than the women’s race.

“On principle, it really bothers me a lot,” Jessie Diggins, who took 30km silver at the Beijing Olympics to give her a medal of every color, said last year of the unequal mass start distance, according to On Her Turf. “Not only can we ski 50km, but we can ski more.

“Do we need to race the exact same length? Maybe not. Do we need to race the same amount of time on course? Yeah, I think that’s absolutely reasonable.”

The men’s mass start at the Beijing Winter Games was shortened due to weather to the point that the women’s mass start, which was not shortened, was a longer race by distance. That marked a first in Olympic cross-country skiing history, according to On Her Turf.

Biathlon and short- and long-track speed skating also have shorter distances for women than men in some events on the Olympic program (in biathlon’s case, all events). There are also Olympic men’s events in ski jumping and Nordic combined that do not have a women’s event equivalent.

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Charlotte Kalla, nine-time Olympic medalist for Sweden, retires

Charlotte Kalla

Charlotte Kalla, who holds Sweden’s female record of nine Olympic medals, will retire from elite cross-country skiing after her national championships that began Thursday.

Kalla, in a social media post, said she made the difficult decision over the last month.

“The curiosity about life outside of elite sports weighs heavier than what a continued investment would entail,” was posted on her social media, according to an International Ski Federation translation.

Kalla, a 34-year-old from Tarendo, a small village above the Arctic Circle with a population of less than 500, won nine medals among the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Olympics, including individual gold in 2010 (10km freestyle) and 2018 (15km skiathlon).

In 2014, she made up a 25-second deficit on the anchor leg of the relay to lead Sweden to its first gold in the event, edging Finland by a half-second. Her local airport unofficially changed its name to Kalla International Airport with a banner.

After four medals in 2018, Kalla earned one medal (relay gold) between the 2019 and 2021 World Championships, then finished her Olympic career last month with a best result of 19th.

In 2021, she didn’t win a medal at a global championship for the first time since 2007. During that season, she struggled with a severe case of COVID-19, coronary heart disease, a back injury, and stomach issues.

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