Norway's Bjoerndalen will make World Cup XC return this weekend


After a full season away from the sport, Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will make his World Cup cross-country return at Gaellivare, Sweden, in Saturday's 15 kilometer event.

After a full season away from the sport, Eurosport is reporting that Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will make his World Cup cross-country return at Gaellivare, Sweden, in Saturday's 15 kilometer event.
    The two-time defending World Cup biathlon champion last competed on the cross-country circuit in Reit im Winkl, Germany's 15 km race in February 2005, finishing 40th.
    Bjoerndalen will be joined in Gaellivare by Norwegian biathlon teammate Lars Berger, who raced last season in Nove Mesto, finishing 51st in the 15 km race.
    Berger just failed to podium in the discipline at the 2003 World Championships, finishing fourth in Oberstdorf, and both skiers will no doubt be looking to this year's Worlds in Sapporo, Japan, in February.
    Both Bjoerndalen and Berger impressed over the weekend in a 10 km freestyle race in Beitostolen, with the four-time biathlon World Cup champion crushing the rest of the national team and Berger finishing 31 seconds behind in second place.
    "I hadn't expected that this race would go that well," Bjoerndalen said after the victory. "I'm looking at the race in Gaellivare as a chance to further fine-tune my shape ahead of the biathlon season.   
    "I have trained a lot on finishing strong this training season, and this gave me the answer that it's paying off."
    The 32-year-old Bjoerndalen has raced sporadically in the cross-country circuit, with two second-place performances in nine World Cup races over seven years.
    When he won his record four Olympic biathlon gold medals at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Bjoerndalen also managed to finish fifth overall in the 30 km cross-country race.

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