The Norwegian national team press conference at 9am on Thursday was expected to answer two pertinent questions: What’s up with Northug and who will race the relay. Those two are closely connected. Wednesday, Northug reported respiratory issues after the team sprint.
Press contact Otto Ulseth wrote it off as just natural physiological response to a very hard race effort.
“Petter’s health is excellent. He is well, and will race the relay,” Ulseth said to the concerned press corps.
However, the national team physician Hans Petter Stokke was a little more reserved.
“After the race Wednesday, Petter showed signs of respiratory symptoms, including sore throat, coughing, and some general discomfort. We were not entirely sure what might be going on, most likely just physiological responses to a tough race, but we have to rule out any other reasons,” Stokke said, adding that Northug feels better today but that they sent him to the Olympic Development Center for some additional testing.
Northug also had similar responses after races at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Stokke also said that if the lab tests indicate that Northug has an infection, he will not clear him to race the relay on Friday. The tests were done Thursday morning.
“I cannot guarantee that Northug will race the relay, as I have to honor the doctor’s orders if there is something going on, but the chances that Northug will race the relay are far greater than sitting out,” said coach Morten Aa Djupvik.
Given all is well, the relay team is Eldar Rønning, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Petter Northug, in that order.
Sources: Nettavisen.no. Translation by Inge Scheve.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.