Cross-country veteran Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset was putting all the blame on himself that Norway failed to win a coveted gold medal in the Men’s 4×10-kilometer Classic/Free relay on Wednesday.
He was in good shape, but his skis failed to perform in a heavy snowstorm during his part of the race, and he fell more than half-a-minute behind leaders Sweden, France and the Czech Republic. “I ruined everything,” he bemoaned to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) when his second run was over.
PICTURE: Sweden’s gold medal winning team (R) celebrates as Norway’s Petter Northug (L) wipes his face after he crosses the finish line bringing his team silver in front of Martin Koukal from The Czech Republic for bronze. EPA/PATRICK SEEGER
“Two million Norwegians are watching at home, and they can all blame me.” Martin Johnsrud Sundby had been first out and he’d kept pace with the leaders, who also struggled in difficult conditions. Lars Berger skied third for Norway, and he recovered a bit but could only send out the last man, Norwegian skiing star Petter Northug, fully 37 seconds behind Sweden in the lead.
Petter’s power lap
As he’s done before, Northug poured on the power and skied a fabulous fourth lap, cutting the disadvantage by half and entering the stadium in position for the silver. For a while it seemed he could salvage the gold medal anyway, but Marcus Hellner of Sweden has strength to spare and won the gold, nearly 16 seconds ahead of Northug, who in turn edged out the Czech Republic by just six-tenths of a second.
Ironically enough, it was Norway’s own Olympic official, Sverre Seeberg, who had the job of handing out the flowers to the winners when it was all over, meaning he needed to congratulate the Swedes with their victory.For Norway, however, it meant the 18th medal of this year’s Winter Olympics, its 106th silver medal in the history of the Winter Olympics and its 301st Winter Olympic medal overall. Not bad for a country of less than 5 million people and way ahead of the nearest medal competitor, the USA, which had 245 total medals as of Wednesday afternoon.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund