Organizers of the Blink Festival in Sandnes, Norway decided to cancel Saturday’s races in light of the tragic events in Utoya and Oslo that have sent the country reeling.
“The situation has changed dramatically over the past day, and all parties agreed to cancel today’s events,” wrote Jan Kvalheim on Saturday, a representative of the festival organizer, World Event.
The three-day annual festival, which has been around since 2006, puts on cross country and biathlon rollerski races in conjunction with free music, food, and dancing. It attracts elite, senior and junior skiers and biathletes along with tens of thousands of spectators. Fans line the course on the hill climb for a “Tour de France atmosphere,” according to the Norwegian Ski Federation website.
The Federation also touts the festival as an important recruiting initiative for Norway, with thousands of children able to try out rollerskiing alongside free food, games, music, and of course live races featuring star athletes.
Marit Bjoergen won both Thursday’s 7.5 k hill climb and Friday’s 10 k mass start in her usual dominating fashion. On the men’s side, Martin Johnsrud won Thursday’s hill climb and Oystein Petterson topped Friday’s 15 k field.
The biathlon races were held in a pursuit format on Friday, with an afternoon shooting prologue an evening handicap start. Marie Laure Brunet and Marie Dorin of France took first and second in the women’s competition, while Ivan Tcherezov (RUS) and Tarjel Bo (NOR) led the men’s race.
In place of Saturday’s competitions, the athletes took a group picture in support of those affected by last week’s devastating events. In the days following the tragedies, the Norwegian Olympic and Paralymic Committee offered its condolences to those affected in Utoya and Oslo.
Committee President Borre Ronglien wrote in a press release, “My hope and belief is that sport, through all of our teams around the country, over time, could help to alleviate the grief and to normalize life for children and youth in all communities.”
Click here for full results from Thursday and Friday.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.