Harald Grønningen had one of the greatest profiles among Norwegian cross country skiers in the 1960s. He competed at every Winter Olympic Games and World Championships from 1960 to 1970. Measuring 1,91 m – unusually tall for a cross-country skier, he was nicknamed “Elgen” (the Elk), and was very popular among skiing fans, much of it due to his modest approach. He came to national prominence in 1959, aged 24, when he was Norwegian Champion over the 15 km distance. He was national champion nine times in the period 1959-68. After winning a silver medal for the Norwegian relay team at the 1960 Winter Games, he won an individual silver medal in the 50 km event at the 1962 World Championships in Zakopane. At the 1964 Winter Olympics Grønningen placed second in both the 15 km and the 30 km behind his Finnish rival Eero Mäntyranta. After winning a 1966 World Championships relay gold medal in Oslo, his greatest moment came at the 1968 Winter Olympics when he won the 15 km race, 1.9 seconds ahead of his arch rival Mäntyranta. He collected another Olympic gold medal as a member of Norway’s relay team. Grønningen was a farmer in his birth municipality of Lensvik, northwest of Trondheim, until his retirement, specializing in growing strawberries.