Marit Bjoergen's bid for a fourth gold at the Vancouver Games ended in dramatic fashion on Saturday when she was edged out by Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk in a sprint finish to the women's 30km classical event.

Norwegian Bjoergen held a 1.9-second lead with five kilometres to go but she was overtaken by Kowalczyk after the skiers entered the stadium for the final time before being narrowly pipped in a thrilling race to the line.

World champion Kowalczyk fell to the snow in joyous relief after completing the energy-sapping, lung-bursting event in one hour 30 minutes 33.7 second.

Bjoergen finished just 0.3 seconds behind with Finland's Aino-Kaisa Saarinen taking the bronze.