Bjørn Erlend Dæhlie (born 19 June 1967 in Elverum, Norway) is the most successful male cross-country skier in history: from 1992 to 1999, Dæhlie won the Nordic World Cup six times, finishing second in 1994 and 1998; Dæhlie also won a total of 29 medals in the Olympics (8 golds) and World Championships (9 golds) between 1991 and 1999. In addition to being an internationally prominent athlete, in Norway Dæhlie is also a cultural icon and a successful businessman in real estate and fashion. Dæhlie attributes much of his success in sports to his upbringing in Nannestad where, from a very early age, he practiced various sports and activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, kayaking, football and skiing. Dæhlie made his debut in the world cup in January 1989, and in December of the same year he won his first world cup race (15 km freestyle). He won his first World Championship gold medal at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 1991 in Val di Fiemme, beating unexpectedly skiing legend Gunde Svan on the 15 km freestyle. In 1992 Dæhlie started his period of dominance: he won the world cup overall for the first time, and in Albertville won his first Olympic medals (gold in 10/15 km freestyle pursuit, 50 km freestyle and 4 × 10 km relay, plus a silver in 30 km classical style). Dæhlie was also awarded the Fearnley’s Olympic Prize for his performance, a prize given to the best performing Norwegian athlete in the Olympics. In the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, Dæhlie won gold in the 10 km classical style and the 15 km freestyle pursuit. He won silver in the 30 km freestyle, and in the 4 × 10 km relay. The 1997 Skiing World Championships in Trondheim were Dæhlie’s most successful: he won a medal in every race, taking gold in the 10 km classical race, the 10+15 km combined pursuit and the 4 × 10 km relay, plus a silver in the 30 km freestyle and a bronze in the 50 km classical. Dæhlie won three golds (10 km classical style, 50 km freestyle and 4 × 10 km skiing relay) and one silver (15 km freestyle pursuit) in his last Olympics in Nagano. A career-ending roller skiing accident in August 1999 prevented him to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City: he retired in March 2001, thus shocking the nation with his decision. Despite his early exit from the competitions, Dæhlie is considered to be one of the greatest Winter Olympic athletes of all time. Read more: