Northug, ski jumpers disappoint

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There were no new gold medals for Norway on Saturday, nor any medals at all for that matter.

Norwegian fans pinned their hopes on Petter Northug, expecting him to win the Men’s 30-kilometer Pursuit at the Winter Olympics. Instead he came in 11th, after losing an estimated three seconds for breaking a ski pole.

That shouldn’t have resulted in such a poor placement but Northug offered no explanation, refusing once again to meet reporters or make any immediate comment. His coach tried to excuse him, saying Northug was simply “terribly disappointed.” So were his teammates, who placed 18th, 19th and 36th.

Marcus Hellner of Sweden won the gold, skiing the course (15 kilometers classic and 15 kilometers freestyle) in just one hour, 15 minutes, 11.4 seconds. It was a double Swedish victory with the Swedish king and queen on hand to cheer from the grandstands, with Johan Olsson winning the bronze medal. Tobias Angerer of Germany took the bronze.

Earlier in the day, Norwegian fans were also disappointed by a relatively poor showing by their ski jumpers. Tom Hilde placed best, at 11th, followed by Anders Jacobsen in 12th place, Johan Remen Evensen as 15th and Anders Bardal 22nd in the Men’s Individual off the big jump.

Simon Ammann of Switzerland made history by winning his fourth gold medal at the 2010 Games, with Adam Malysz of Poland clinching the silver and Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria winning the bronze.
(Written February 20, 2010)