News items from the World Championships
Thomas Alsgaard has been selected as one of four Norwegians who will ski the 50 km, but he is uncertain that he will race. After two tremendous performances during these championships, both of which netted him gold medals, Thomas admits that he is tired and his top form may be gone. Unless he feels that his body is capable of fighting for a medal in the event, he may give the spot on the start list to HÃ¥vard Bjerkeli—the silver medalist in the sprint races. â€œBut if I get signals from my body that suggest I can win a medal, then I will of course race,â€ said Alsgaard. Otherwise, Alsgaard plans to pack his bags and return home. He has until Friday afternoon to make up his mind.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the selection of the Norwegian men’s team at these championships, particularly after the sub-par World Cup season the Norwegian men have had. That turmoil set the stage for an amusing incident following the sprint races. Without looking around to see who was near, Tor Arne Hetland sat down at a table full of team skiers and suggested that he and Frode Estil play rock-scissors-paper to determine which of the two would ski in the final 50-km race. Estil chose paper, and Hetland chose rock. â€œI didn’t know that this was the way the team was actually chosen,â€ joked an observer who was also at the table. That casual observer happened to be none other than the King of Norway. The truth is that Hetland was in no danger of really being considered for the 50-km race, and was just joking around without knowing that he was in the presence of the king. Frode Estil, Kristen Skjeldal, Tore Ruud Hofstad and Thomas Alsgaard were selected by other, more logical methods to fill Norway’s four allotted spots.
Also from Dagbladet.no:
Despite coming in as a favorite to win an unprecedented five (or possibly six) gold medals in Val di Fiemme, Bente Skari will have to be satisfied with two. Doctors have instructed her not to race in the final 30-km event, and she feels no reason to argue. Today’s workout gave her no indication that her body is ready for a race, and she had reportedly only been able to eat two slices of pineapple and some cola the day before. Even so, Skari told reporters that she does not consider the championships to be a fiasco. â€œThe disappointment was greatest right before the pursuit race,â€ she said. â€œI have won two gold medals. I have begun to be happier about the golds. Now it is just about getting over the disappointment.â€
After JÃ¶rgen Brink’s collapse during the final leg of the men’s relay, World Cup leader Mathias Frederiksson was unable to hide his frustration and disappointment. Most of his anger was directed towards his teammate. â€œHis assignment was just to ski like it was an individual race. One never hits the wall like that in those races. Not when we are only talking about 10 kilometers. This bronze medal isn’t worth anything,â€ Mathias was reported to have said to GÃ¶teborgs-Posten reporters. However, Frederiksson’s attitude was not shared by all. Mathias’ brother, sprint world champion Tobias Frederiksson, suggested that Per Elofsson could have made things better by skiing a better third leg, and relieving Brink of some of the pressure. Tobias pointed out that Elofsson lost time to both Norway and Germany during his leg.
Swedish skiing fans have been generous with their support of Brink however, 2000 emails expressing support have arrived at Aftonbladet’s web site. Some examples: â€œCome on Jrgen, you gave it your all. What more can one ask for? It was delightful to see the team up in the lead. You will win next time.â€ and â€œDespite what happened at the end, we just want to say that we think you are all kings of the tracks.â€