(translated from articles on langrenn.com, “Hjelmeset skadet etter kollisjonen i Kuusamo”, 11-29-09)
Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset will take a couple weeks to recover from several bruised ribs he suffered when colliding with a Swiss wax technician during Sunday’s 15km classic race in Kuusamo. Hjelmeset started the race at a furious pace, leading at the 4km mark. Shortly afterward, in a downhill corner, Hjelmeset ran into the wax technician who was walking on the course.
“I lost at least 20 seconds. Maybe more, “said Hjelmeset, adding that even though he was unlikely to top Northug or Vylegzhanin that day, he could have still had a chance at the podium. Hjelmeset ended the race in 15th place, 24 seconds out of 3rd.
Hjelmeset was so furious after the race that he approached the wax tech and shoved him against a vehicle, prompting the International Ski Federation (FIS) to issue Hjelmeset a written warning. Åge Skinstad, sports chief of the Norwegian Biathlon, compared the warning to the punishment of a yellow card in soccer. Skinstad believes the real punishment should go toward the wax technician who was in violation of race track boundaries.
“There is no doubt about who has the main fault in this situation,” said Skinstad, “We believe that such behavior should also lead to loss of accreditation.”
Fortunately for Hjelmeset, who is a classic specialist, there are few classic races in the next couple weeks, giving him time to heal the injured ribs.