Note: This article has been updated to include more detail about Vibeke Skofterud’s accident as well as comments from her partner, Marit Stenshorne.
A former member of Norway’s prestigious national ski team and a gold medalist in the 2010 Olympic 4 x 5-kilometer relay, Vibeke Skofterud, 38, was found dead on Sunday morning after a jet ski accident near an island in southern Norway.
According to NRK, Skofterud was reported missing around 1 a.m. Sunday morning, but it took a rescue boat until 11:30 a.m. to find her. She was found on the island of St. Helena outside of Arendal and declared dead at the scene. On Monday, police said they believed she died around midnight when her jet ski hit land, according to multiple news reports. No one else was believed to have been involved with the accident and she had been alone on the personal watercraft.
On Saturday night, Skofterud reportedly posted an Instagram video of herself and her partner jet skiing in the Arendal area and later posted another video of the two at a music festival in Arendal.
According to News in English.no, her partner, Marit Stenshorne, reported Skofterud missing after the concert when Skofterud didn’t return to their cabin on another local island, Tromøya, where they had just begun vacationing.
Stenshorne posted about the tragedy on Instagram on Sunday: “Vibeke my great love, my girlfriend, my lover, my hero, my mentor and best friend. We said: the two of us forever. We were going to become old and wrinkly together. Life will be so sad and difficult without you. You gave me so much positivity, gratefulness, laughter, joy, knowledge and love. Love you @vibekeskofterud.”
Skofterud was one of Norway’s top female skiers from 2001 to 2015, reaching the podium 15 times as an individual. In multiple World Championship relays, she earned two golds, one silver and a bronze medal between 2005 and 2011. She competed at two Olympics, 2002 and 2010, posting a best individual result of eighth in the 30 k classic in Salt Lake City. She retired in August 2015.
Police said they had called in Norway’s national accident investigation board, but explained it may take several weeks to determine what happened to Skofterud. As of Monday, they suspected darkness and high speed as probable causes. Lightning, thunder and heavy rain in the area on Saturday night may have contributed to poor visibility.
“We’re examining the [jet ski], the area and the deceased,” Bård Austad, operations leader of the Agder Police District, told NRK. “We’re also questioning any witnesses.”
— Aleks Tangen contributed reporting
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