Justyna Kowalczyk took the silver in the women’s individual cross country skiing sprint on Wednesday, 17 February, at the 21st Winter Olympic games in Vancouver. The final race was neck and neck for much of the last half of the course, with Marit Bjoergen of Norway taking the lead from Kowalczyk only on the last corner, as Kowalczyk’s skis slipped slightly, giving the Norwegian an edge of about three metres down the stretch.
The race was something of an upset, and may have ended very differently had the favourite, Petra Madjic, not slipped and fallen off the track during the qualifying round, sliding four metres over a steep edge and crashing into a tree, evidently injuring her ribs. Madjic finished all of the rounds in obvious pain, fighting her way to the finish line in an amazing display of discipline to take the bronze, only to be carried away by her teammates to receive medical attention at the finish line.
The Madjic incident is one in a long string of organizational, safety, and weather-related problems for the games.