Svendsen saved Norway’s honour

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Emil Hegle Svendsen won the 27th World Cup victory of his biathlon career at Holmenkollen in Oslo over the weekend, and thereby was hailed for saving the honour of Norway’s biathlon team.

Emil Hegle Svendsen took Norway's only World Cup victory at Holmenkollen over the weekend. PHOTO: Norges Skiskytterforbund

Svendsen not only won the men’s mass start event on Sunday but also got to meet King Harald for the first time. He said afterwards that he was more nervous up in the royal box at Holmenkollen than when he was while racing or up on the winners’ platform.

“I was starstruck,” he told reporters afterwards.

Sunday marked the end of a four-day IBU World Cup Biathlon competition that otherwise was relatively unremarkable for the Norwegian team. Long-time biathlon star Ole Einar Bjørndalen had a disappointing weekend, missing many shots and winding up in 17th place, while last year’s big winner Tarjei Bø did better at shooting but landed in 9th place. Lars Berger, another star in earlier years, was said to be “out of shape” and didn’t participate.

This season has definitely been a downturn since the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 and the World Championships in Russia last year, when Norway took four gold medals and Bø won the overall World Cup.

Svendsen seemed to be seeking more team spirit within the Norwegian troops and called for an “official World Championship” gathering. “I think it’s really important to get together since we’re struggling a bit,” Svendsen told newspaper Aftenposten. “Working together is important.”

He also thinks the skiers need a tougher training regime and tougher coaches. “As far as I’m concerned, it can be much stricter,” Svendsen said. “I need someone who’s kicking me in the rear.”

Norway’s women’s team did even worse than the men at Holmenkollen, leaving their German competitors to grab most all of the gold. Synnøve Solemdal had the best performance among the Norwegian women, in 7th place.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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