When Magdalena Forsberg of Sweden began winning World Cup
biathlon events as a 28-year-old rookie in 1995, she found
herself in a state of disbelief. "I had to ask, Who is this
person?" Forsberg recalls. "This cannot be me." Forsberg, an
Olympian in cross-country skiing in 1992, had decided to switch
sports on something of a lark. "I wanted to try this biathlon
thing," she says, "but for fun, not for prizes." The prizes came
anyway. Forsberg, who practiced shooting with an air rifle as a
girl and often accompanied her father, Jan, on hunting trips, has
skied and shot her way to 40 World Cup victories over the last
seven years and won the World Cup points championship for five
seasons in a row.
The one notable failure in Forsberg's career took place in
Nagano, where, admittedly overwhelmed by high pre-Olympic
expectations, she finished no better than 10th, in the relay.
She is expected to atone for that by winning as many as three
individual events in Salt Lake City. Forsberg, whose husband,
Henrik, will also compete in biathlon in Salt Lake, carries her
stardom modestly, and has been voted her country's most popular
athlete for the last three years. When she won a race in
Bled-Pokjuka, Slovenia, last season, she attributed the victory
to favorable snow, a healthy breakfast and luck. Fellow medalist
Martina Glagow of Germany chimed in: "She neglects to include
that she is the best who ever was. This is also a consideration."