Since Martinsen was then a mere 23 and the baby on the squad (in Norway, nobody is considered ready for this stuff until he starts to silver at the temples) they let him run the first leg, with Eggen, Ellefsaeter and Gronningen figuring that if the kid goofed they could make up the time between them.
Martinsen made his move at about five kilometers—which would be about as unwise as turning Buckpasser loose on the backstretch—and took off. While Norway stood amazed, he came in for his leg 25 seconds ahead of everyone else. The other three breezed in.
Together, they are as natural an act as, say, The Supremes. And it figured that Ellefsaeter, Eggen, Gronningen and Martinsen were tabbed immediately as Norway's Golden Quartet—darlings of the fjord set and fallen upon by fans wherever they go.
"The Golden Quartet. We are not," says Ellefsaeter dryly, "a rock 'n' roll band, you know."
Still, Ole bangs a mean guitar at his cabin up in the woods and sings in a rather commanding voice, a la Tennessee Ernie Ford. So he cut a couple of records, two 45s and one LP, which promptly became tops on the Norway Hit Parade. There was Hulder Slotten, written just for Ole, which rocks right along. It loses a lot in translation, but it is about this girl named Hulder, see, who is the wife of a troll, and it is sung in slotten—which is the Norwegian equivalent of country and western.
Eggen, meanwhile, promptly turned out a best-selling book called Three Times Gold, and Martinsen married a stunning nurse. And all of them took dead aim on this year's Olympics.
The country seems ready. If one were to add up all the gold medals, dating back to the pre-Alpine days when the two divisions were still a little mixed, Norway still leads the world in total championships (in which Olympics also count) with 56. Finland is next with 40 and Austria has 38.
And even against growing East European competition they are a cinch to add at least six more to that total when the massacre starts next week.
A couple of weeks ago Coach Jensen sat in an Oslo hotel lobby and talked about it; tall, lean, wearing his sweater with the reindeer pattern, his legs stretched out, and wriggling his toes in a pair of soft boots. Skis were stacked all around and upstairs the world's toughest skiers were wallowing in all this unaccustomed luxury.
"Let's see, now," said Jensen, ticking them off on his fingers. "Twelve Nordic gold medals are possible.