Ann-Elen Skjelbreid (born 13.9.1971)
Ann-Elen grew up on the farm of Skjelbreid in Hålandsdalen in Fusa, the middle of three sisters.
She took up biathlon at 11, and won the all-Norway race at 14, although she came from a fjord-
area of western Norway with little snow. After high school she decided to go to a skiing college
in Trysil in eastern Norway to develop as a biathlete, and the good snow conditions there brought
results for the Fusa-girl. In 1990 she won the Norwegian cup for older juniors. She finished
skiing college in the spring of 1990, but decided to stay in Trysil. In 1991 she started teacher
training college in Elverum, and she has completed an education besides being a top athlete.
Ann-Elen moved back to Fusa and the farm of Skjelbreid in 1996. The summer of 2002 she married
The 18-year-old from Hålandsdalen was given a place in the Norwegian team for the junior world-
championships in Finland in 1990, and the debutant did her things well: Silver in the relay, 4th
in the individual, 5th in the team event and 10th in the sprint. She was in the junior national
side in the 1990/91-season.
As a final-year junior in 1991 she reached her great goal: The world champion title in the
sprint in the world championships in Hungary after faultless shooting. No Norwegian girl had won
become junior world champion in biathlon before! She also brought home another relay silver.
As a first-year senior Ann-Elen was given a place on the Biathlon Association's recruitment
team 'Team 94' which she was a part of from 1991 to 1993.
She won her first gold in the Norwegian championships for seniors in the team event in 1992
(for Hedmark county). She also won bronze in the sprint and silver in the relay. Her efforts
won her a place in the world-cup team, and she made her debut in Ruhpolding in January 1992.
In 1994 Ann-Elen made it onto the Norwegian national side, and she helped win a silver medal
in the team event of the world championships.
She took her first Norwegian championships gold-medal in the relay in 1994 with her sister
Liv Grete. She became Norwegian champion in the sprint in 1995. She also won a bronze in the
individual event, and a silver in the relay. Since then, she has won many Norwegian championships-
medals, and in 2003 she won her second gold medal, winning the individual event (15 km).
Her first season in the world-cup was 1992, when she came 48th overall. She first made it onto
the podium in 1996 with a second place in Osrblie. She now has five second places in the world-cup.
Her best season so far was 1998, when she came 9th overall, with one second place, one fourth,
one fifth and two sixth places. The 1999-season was also very good. She then won a silver medal
in the world-cup sprint in Holmenkollen, and she came 10th in the world cup overall. She has
finished among the top 25 in 65 world-cup races.
Ann-Elen has one individual medal from the senior world championships: Silver in the sprint
in Ruhpolding in 1996. She also has several other top ten results: She came sixth in the
pursuit in 1998, when she had come second in the sprint, which at that time was only the first
part of the pursuit event, and not a separate competition. In 1999 she came 8th in the sprint.
In 2001 she came 10th in the sprint and 9th in the pursuit.
In the team event, she has two gold medals from the world championships in 1995 and 1997,
and silver from 1994 and 1998.
She was part of the Norwegian relay-team that took the silver medal in 1997 and bronze in 1995.
Ann-Elen has taken part in three Olympic games: Lillehammer-94, Nagano-98 and Salt Lake City-02.
She hasn't quite succeeded individually in the Olympics, but 17th place in the sprint in her
first Olympics in Lillehammer is a respectable result, as is the 22nd place in the 15 km in Salt
Lake City. The relay-results have steadily improved: 4th in Lillehammer, 3d in 1998 and 2nd in
Ann-Elen is also Norwegian champion in cross-country skiing from the relay in 1995, when she
was part of the relay team of the club Trysilgutten.
Injuries and adversity
Ann-Elen broke both an arm and a foot early in the 1990s. She has had trouble with asthma since
1996, it is brought on by exertion, which is very common among top athletes. It became so bad
that she came close to giving up her biathlon-career before she got medical help, but Ann-Elen
is not one to give up easily! Before the 2003-season she had to stop using her asthma-medication
for half a year to prove that she really suffers from asthma and needs medication. This
requirement was due to anti-doping-regulations. She didn't get new medication until christmas 2002.
Anyone who has knowledge of asthma will understand how much this hampered her training in the
run-up to the season, and how it affect her 2003-season. In spite of her difficulties, she was
Norway's third best female biathlete that season. But still she lost her place in the national
side in April, having just won the Norwegian championships in the hardest distance, 15 km. But
Ann-Elen is not giving up easily this time either! The fan-club organized a spontaneous support
group for Ann-Elen, which has been working to get sponsors and gifts to make it economically
possible for her to aim for another season. Local business has answered the call, and Ann-Elen
is competing again in the 2004-season.
1990: relay-silver, junior WCh
1991: sprint-gold and relay-silver junior-WCh
1992: NCh-bronze sprint, NCh-silver relay and NCh-gold team. World-cup overall: 48th.
1994: NCh-gold relay and team. Olympics: 4th in the relay, 17th in the sprint. WCh-silver team. World cup overall: 29th.
1995: NCh-gold sprint, NCh-bronze individual, NCh-silver relay. WCh-gold team, WCh-bronze relay. World cup overall: 32nd.
1996: NCh-silver sprint, NCh-bronze individual, NCh-silver team. WCh-silver sprint. 2 second- and 1 sixth place in the world cup, 13th overall.
1997: NCh-silver sprint and individual, NCh-gold relay. WCh-gold team, WCh-silver relay. 1 secondplace in the world cup, 27th overall.
1998: NCh-silver individual. WCh-silver team. Sixth place WCh-pursuit. Olympic-bronze relay. 1 secondplace, one 4., one 5. and one 6. place in the world cup, 9th overall.
1999: NCh-silver sprint, 4 individual. WCh: nr. 8 sprint, 12 pursuit, 13 mass start, 4 relay. World cup overall: 10th.
2000: NCh: Relay-gold, 4 sprint, 5 pursuit, 5 mass start. WCh: 16 sprint, 16 mass start, 39 individual, 5 relay. World cup overall: 34th.
2001: NCh: sprint-silver, pursuit-bronze, 4. place mass start; WCh: 10 sprint, 9 pursuit, 13 mass start, 41 individual; 20th in the world cup overall after one 5. and one 7. place.
2002: Olympics: silver relay, 22 individual, 38 sprint, 39 pursuit, WCh: 24 mass start, World cup overall: 56th. NCh: relay-gold, mass start-silver, individual-bronze, 6 sprint, 4 pursuit.
2003: NCh: individual-gold, 18 sprint, WCh: 8 relay, 31 individual, 42 sprint, 40 pursuit.