Elin Nilsen, born in Mo i Rana in northern Norway, was a promising junior, and was chosen for the Norwegian recruit team in 1990. Nilsen was selected for the 1991 World Championship team for Val di Fiemme, and won a bronze medal with the Norwegian relay team. Her definitive breakthrough came in 1992. After winning two events at the Norwegian Championship, she gained an Olympic relay silver in Albertville, and placed fourth at 30 km. She later won two more Olympic relay silver medals (1994 and 1998), three more World Championships relay silver medals (1995, 1997 and 2001), and a relay bronze medal at the 1993 World Championships. She never won an international individual medal, placing fourth over 30 km at Nagano in 1998, in addition to her fourth place at Albertville. She was an eight-time Norwegian champion, and was at her best at the longer distances. She ended her skiing career after the 2004 season, aged 35, and later settled in her native Mo i Rana, with her daughter Tiril Brandt Nilsen also a promising junior skier.