Ski jumping faded into the fog

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Norway’s pioneer female ski jumper Anette Sagen was furious after Friday’s important ski jumping competition at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo. The fog was so thick at times that not even those in the press box could see the jumpers, and Sagen thinks the event should have been postponed.

Friday's important women's ski jumping competition was obscured by heavy fog, and pioneering jumper Anette Sagen was furious the event wasn't cancelled. PHOTO: Stian Broch/Oslo 2011

“They would have postponed it if this had been a men’s competition,” Sagen fumed to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). She claimed it was “ridiculous” to carry on when the visibility was so poor, and she harshly criticized the jury. FIS officials, though, refused to accept any criticism.

“This is an outdoors sport,” Walter Hofer, director of the event for FIS, told NRK. He thinks the jury did a good job: “They tried to offer similar conditions for everyone. Under these conditions that was difficult.”

Arne Scheie, NRK’s own legendary ski jumping commentator, told viewers at one point that: “I’m sorry that I can’t offer you more from here, but I plain and simple can’t see the jumpers.”

Daniela Iraschko of Austria won the gold medal in women's ski jumping on Friday, overcoming very poor visibility. PHOTO: Stian Broch/Oslo 2011

The women had been eager to put on the best possible performance, not least because observers from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were among the spectators, evaluating whether to include women’s ski jumping at the next Olympics in 2014. Sagen, who has fought for years to win more respect for women ski jumpers, felt the foggy conditions prevented the women from doing well.

Sagen stressed that she wasn’t only angry because she personally performed poorly (she placed 22nd and the best Norwegian placement was only 10th). She nonetheless thinks the event should have been cancelled, not least because the public couldn’t see the show.

“We’re in the beginning of the championships and I would have thought the organizers have a few extra days (to accommodate a new event),” Sagen said.

Daniela Iraschko of Austria ended up winning the gold at the new Midtstuen Ski Jump next to Holmenkollen after two jumps of 97 meters each, while Elena Runggaldier of Italy took silver and Coline Mattel of France won bronze. An IOC representative hinted to NRK that she thought the IOC would make a decision in the women’s favour.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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