by Sheryl Sandbeg and Adam Grant
AT the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the Norwegian cross-country skier Therese Johaug was vying for her first individual gold medal. Fresh off a world championship in the 10-kilometer race, she was now competing in the 30-kilometer. More than a grueling hour later, Ms. Johaug landed the silver, finishing less than three seconds behind the gold medalist — her training partner, Marit Bjorgen.
The two Norwegians are the top two female cross-country skiers in the world and fierce competitors. Instead of being bitter rivals, they are best friends.
Ms. Bjorgen, 36, has been the reigning queen for more than a decade. When Ms. Johaug burst onto the scene, a wunderkind eight years younger threatening to unseat her, Ms. Bjorgen took her under her wing.
“She has given me an incredible amount of confidence,” Ms. Johaug said, “and because she has done that I have become the cross-country skier I am.” When Ms. Bjorgen announced last year that she was pregnant, Ms. Johaug joked that she was prepared to be the baby’s “spare aunt.”