In 1956, Hallgeir Brenden became the first cross country skier to successfully defend his Olympic title in the short distance (1952: 18 km, 1956: 15 km). After his second victory in the Italian Cortina, he was congratulated by movie star Sophia Loren, and pictures of her sitting on his lap gained Brenden (brief) world-wide fame. In addition to his individual titles, Brenden gained two silver medals with the Norwegian relay squad at the 1952 and 1960 Olympics. Remarkably, Brenden never medalled at the World Skiing Championships, although technically the Olympics doubled as the World Championships in that era. His other successes included twelve Norwegian titles and three sprint wins at Holmenkollen, as well as the Holmenkollen medal in 1955. In summer, Brenden was a top track athlete, winning the Norwegian steeplechase title in 1953 and 1954, and becoming the first Norwegian to better 9 minutes in that event. In 1952, he was awarded Egebergs ærespris for excelling in two sports. A lumberjack from the tiny village of Tørberget in the municaplity of Tyrsil, a statue of him was unveiled there in 2002.