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.".