Hjelmeset collides with wax tech during race, suffers injured ribs

December 1, 20094

Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset  (photo: Geir Olsen)
Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset (photo: Geir Olsen)

(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.

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  • lsiebert

    December 1, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    I agree with Hjelmeset and his coaches on this one. The tracks must be kept clear for racers. They are moving fast, and don’t expect non-racers to be blocking their path. While Hjelmeset’s reaction was clearly inappropriate, and attacking servicepeople cannot be condoned, this collision was 100% the fault of the serviceman and is inexcuseable on the World Cup.

  • Lars

    December 3, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Unfortunate incident and i get Hjelmeset`s frustration a podium would really have helped his chance in terms of going to the Olympics but reaction to collision was inappropriate.

  • donpollari

    December 3, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Ouch, bruised ribs are no fun and take a looooong time to heal. (I know; dealing with some now from a rollerskiing crash).

    The moron on the track might have could have dashed Odd-B’s Olympic hopes.

    I don’t approve but will look the other way this time regarding his violent tendencies;)

  • Cloxxki

    December 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I would have done the same, although maybe going over the line verbally rather than physically. In any case, I’d be out to verify the offender, and have witnesses. The wax tech might just stay away the next races and “get away” with it.
    Did the wax tech go to the jury before Hjelmeset finished to indicate his error? If not, oh….

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