No Olympic Village for Norway’s skiers

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South Korean officials built a modern yet traditional Olympic Village to house athletes competing in the Winter Olympics but Norwegian skiers and biathlon athletes aren’t staying there. They have their own exclusive accommodation aimed at helping them win medals, and their haul increased on Tuesday.

Olympic officials including the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, toured Olympic Village before the winter games began last week. Norwegian skiers and biathlon stars, though, aren’t staying there. PHOTO: IOC/Greg Martin

Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, the 21-year-old Norwegian sensation who took the cross-country skiing world by storm this winter, won his first gold meal in PyeongChang on Tuesday. Klæbo outclassed his competitors once again in the men’s sprint, while Maiken Caspersen Falla won silver for the women.

Both could retire this evening to the “boutique” Hotel Olive, a former two-star hotel that Norwegian athletics spent millions of kroner remodelling, along with a former nearby gym, to accommodate the cross-country and biathlon teams plus support staff. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that all told, the Norwegians have spent NOK 21 million (USD 2.6 million) on everything from new beds and black-out curtains on the windows (to ensure the athletes get enough sleep) and transporting equipment including an indoor roller-skiing treadmill on which the athletes can train.

Own Norwegian food, too
The Norwegians have also sent their own food for the athletes from Norway, along with hygiene standards, to help prevent illness. State broadcaster NRK noted last week that each athlete also has his or her own cheese slicer, to further hinder inadvertent sharing of any germs.

The accommodation was not supposed to be “fancy,” Ingrid Bahr of Norway’s Olympic administration told Aftenposten, “but it’s very important that it’s clean and that the ahtletes sleep well.” No kimchi or other Korean specialities for the skiers either: “Among other things we’re bringing over quite a bit of Norwegian cheese. Open-faced sandwiches with Norwegian ingredients is an important part of their nourishment during the Olympics, so we’re sending over the food the athletes are used to.”

Gold in ski jumping for women
Norway’s alpine skiers are also being accommodated at their own hotel but Aftenposten reported that other Norwegian participants were staying at Olympic Village. They’re not doing too badly, but Norway lost its last chance at a bronze medal in mixed curling on Tuesday and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, along with French downhill racers Alexis Pinturault and Victor Muffat Jeandel were too fast for Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud.

But Maren Lundby, a 23-year-old ski jumper from Toten, won gold on Monday, the latest Norwegian woman to carry on the tradition of the legendary Anette Sagen, who fought for years for women ski jumpers to be able to compete on the same terms as men, also in the Olympics. Lundby’s and Klæbo’s gold medals brought Norway’s total to three plus eight other medals, leaving Norway still with the most at 11 as of Tuesday night.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund