The best Polish cross-country skier, Olympic champion and the only athlete to have won the prestigious Tour de Ski competition four times in a row.
She has won five Olympic medals, including two gold (in the 10-kilometre classical at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and in the 30-kilometre classical at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games), one silver (in the individual sprint at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games), and two bronze medals (in the 15-kilometre pursuit at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and in the 30-kilometre freestyle at the 2006 Turin Olympic Games).
In September 2014, she defended her Ph.D. thesis titled “Structure and intensity of training load in female cross-country skiers in the context of skiing techniques’ evolution and different sport levels” at Krakow’s University of Physical Education.
Justyna Kowalczyk has been training since the age of 15. After less than a year of training she won gold at the Polish Junior Championship. She finished the sports high school in Zakopane and graduated from the University of Physical Education in Katowice.
In December 2001, at the age of 18, she débuted in a World Cup competition. Three years later, she became one of its leaders. Justyna Kowalczyk is a multiple medallist of junior championships, the World University Games, and Polish championships.
She won her first Olympic medal in the 30-kilometre freestyle at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, at the age of 23. In the season of 2007/08, she scored the third place in the World Cup and became the first Polish cross-country skier to reach the competition’s podium. She came first a year later, a success that she repeated in 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2012/13, becoming one of two athletes to win the FIS Cross-Country World Cup three times in a row (the other one being Finland’s Marjo Matikainen). Justyna Kowalczyk is also the only skier who won the Tour de Ski four times in a row.
She won three medals at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, including one gold in the 30-kilometre classical, one silver in the individual sprint, and one bronze in the pursuit, becoming the third Polish athlete to scoop three medals in a single Olympic Games (next to Irena Szewińska and Otylia Jędrzejczak). In Sochi, she took a gold in the 10-kilometre classical.
Justyna Kowalczyk is engaged in charity: she supports the Polish Society Against Cystic Fibrosis.