Olav Økern had a long career as a cross-country skier. He participated at Holmenkollen for the first time in 1934, and improved steadily in the coming years. In 1938 he skied the second leg for Norway’s cross-country relay team at the World Championships in Lahti, winning a silver medal. His only major victory came in 1940 when he won the 18 km race at Holmenkollen. During World War II he was arrested by the Germans and spent over two years in a concentration camp outside Hamburg. After the war he resumed hard training, and to everybody’s surprise placed 5th in the 18 km race at Holmenkollen in 1946. In the 1948 Olympics, Økern won a bronze medal as a member of the Norwegian cross-country relay team. In 1952, aged 40, he came second in the 50 km race at the Norwegian Championships and was selected for the Oslo Olympics, where he ended his Olympic career with an excellent fourth place, only 15 seconds behind the bronze medalist. Four years later he was still able to earn a prize at Holmenkollen in the 50 km. Most of his life he worked as a lumberjack, and he had a reputation for training very hard. Olav Økern was awarded the Holmenkollen Medal in 1950.