“Late bloomer” says goodbye at “Kollen”

Holmenkollen – the ski jump hill and ski stadium in northwest Oslo – has a special place in the hearts of many Norwegians. The same has the 32-year-old Marte Olsbu Røiseland, who in recent years has been the world’s most successful female biathlete. On Sunday late in the afternoon, the likable biathlete’s fantastic career will end precisely at “Kollen” in front of more than 50,000 spectators in the stadium and along the track in Nordmarka, as well as millions of TV viewers all over the world, who are following the season’s last World Cup in biathlon.

Unique desire to compete and improve

Marte Olsbu was born on 7 December 1990 in Arendal in the southern part of Norway, where she found an early interest and joy in sports. However, it wasn’t until she was 14 years that Marte started practicing biathlon, and during her teenage years there was no indication that she would become the world’s best biathlete. Admission to Sirdal upper secondary school and, not least, the meeting with Roger Grubben, who was a teacher at the school and has been her coach throughout her career, had a decisive impact on Marte’s sporting and personal development. It was also in this environment that Marte met Sverre Røiseland, who was a very talented biathlete and who in 2018 became Marte’s spouse. Today, Sverre Røiseland is the national coach for the best German biathletes. In her youth, Marte showed dexterous shooting skills, but her skills as a cross-country runner were miles away from her competitors, both in Norway and internationally. On the other hand, Marte’s desire to compete and improve was completely unique.

World Championships 2016: Gold with a margin of 5 seconds after 24 km

Marte Olsbu did not achieve any remarkable sporting results, neither in her youth nor in her first years as a senior biathlet. As a 21-year-old, she debuted in the World Cup back in the 2012-2013 season, but over several seasons she had great difficulty in achieving top 10 positions, both at the World Championships and World Cups. In connection with a visit to Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and Olympiatoppen, I was lucky to experience Marte Olsbu’s international breakthrough at the World Championships 2016 at Holmenkollen. On a beautiful sunny day in March, Marte Olsbu had to run the last leg of the Norwegian relay team (4 x 6 km) in tough competition with the big favorites from France and Germany. The race between the French Marie Dorin Habert, who won a total of 6 WC medals in Oslo, and Marte Olsbu in front of 40,000 enthusiastic spectators is still sharp in my memories today. Less than 5 seconds separated the two world-class athletes after 24 km with Olsbu as the winner.

“Late bloomer” – International breakthrough as a 27-year-old

Olsbu Røiseland’s status as a “late bloomer” – an athlete who develops and achieves the best results much later than competitors of the same age – was confirmed by her Olympic debut at the age of 27 years at the 2018 Winter Olympics, where he won two silver medals in the sprint and the mix relay together with Tiril Eckhoff, Emil Hegle Svendsen and Johannes Thingnes Boe. Likewise, Olsbu Røiseland only won its first individual World Cup victory in December 2018. Today the number of individual World Cup victories stands at 17 – the most recent two in Nové Mesto in the Czech Republic less than 3 weeks ago.

“Champion of Champions 2020”

The World Championships 2020 in Anterselva di Mezzo in Italy was the biggest sporting triumph for Marte Olsbu Røiseland, as she became the first biathlete ever to win 7 WC medals – 5 gold and 2 bronze – out of a possible 7. Among other things, she won WC gold in the sprint, pursuit start and mass start. A fantastic performance, which resulted in Marte Olsbu Røiseland being named the world’s best female athlete in 2020 – “Champion of Champions” – by the French sports magazine L’Equipe. She thus became the first biathlete – both for men and women – and the first athlete from Norway to achieve the distinguished honor. Olsbu Røiseland thus also became a member of a particularly exclusive “club” consisting of tennis player Serena Williams, swimmer Katie Ledecky and gymnast Simone Biles – all from the USA.

Winter Olympics 2022 most winning athlete

The 2022 Winter Olympics was also a historic milestone for Marte Olsbu Røiseland with a total of 5 Olympic medals: 3 gold (sprint, pursuit start and mixed relay) and 2 bronze (individual and mass start). The total number of Olympic medals was thus brought up to a total of 7. After the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Olsbu Røiseland continued to show great form and she thus also became a supreme winner of the overall World Cup in the 2021-2022 season.

Great comeback after illness

Last summer, Olsbu Røiseland was unfortunately affected by a viral disease, which meant that she was prevented from this season’s first four competitions of the World Cup. In January, however, she was back at the World Cup in Ruhpolding and at the World Championships 2023 in Oberhof in mid-February it was a gold medal in both the mixed relay and the single relay as well as a bronze medal in the pursuit start. With this, Olsbu Røiseland reached a total of 17 World Champoionship medals, of which no fewer than 13 were gold. Regardless of the results of this week’s World Cup at “Kollen”, the friendly and humble “biathlon queen” from Froland IF will always stand as a fantastic ambassador for Norwegian winter sports. Many thanks for all the experiences – Marte!

You can get further information about biathlon here:

International Biathlon Union – https://www.biathlonworld.com

Norway versus rest of the World (26. January 2021) – https://ma57.dk/en/norway-versus-rest-of-the-world

Biathlon – the most fascinating sport at the 2022 Winter Olympics (1. February 2022) – https://ma57.dk/en/biathlon-the-most-fascinating-sport-at-the-2022-winter-olympics

Are the Winter Olympics possible in the future (9. January 2023) – https://ma57.dk/en/are-the-winter-olympics-possible-in-the-future