Norwegian ski jumper Anders Jacobsen was the latest in a string of Norwegian athletes to end up bruised and even bloody as they tested out facilities or took part in qualifying rounds as the Winter Olympics in Sochi got underway this week. For some, the games are over before they began, while other Norwegian stars are brimming with confidence.
Jacobsen had a dramatic training round on Thursday after taking a nasty fall in a test jump. VG reported that he lay still for nearly half-a-minute and was seen with blood running from his nose.
“He got a real pounding,” Norwegian sports chief Clas Brede Bråthen told VG. Jacobsen, who’ll celebrate his 29th birthday during the course of the Olympics on February 17, later got up and left the hill with the help of crew standing by. He headed to the doctor Thursday evening for a medical check, and by Friday morning, it still wasn’t clear whether he’d be able to compete on Sunday as scheduled. He was excused from a training session on Friday because he felt “stiff and sore” after the fall, according to Norway’s national ski federation (Norges Skiforbundet).
Earlier in the day, snowboarder Kjersti Buaas, age 32, also took a bad fall during a slopestyle qualifying round. Buaas, who earlier had considered dropping the Olympics for political and security reasons, was taken to a local emergency room but she was only badly bruised. A team spokesman later said she suffered no fractures but tore a stomach muscle and would remain under observation. Buaas, from Trondheim, posted a thumbs-up photo of herself on social media and wrote that she hoped to take part in the finals on Sunday.
Fellow snowboarder Torstein Horgmo, also from Trondheim, took an even worse fall during a slopestyle training round earlier in the week and it knocked him out of Olympic competition. Horgmo suffered a broken collar bone and a concussion, ruining his Olympic debut. “Falling is part of our sport, but the timing here was really bad,” Horgmo told newspaper Aftenposten.
Earlier injuries have also kept some Norwegian stars out of the Olympics, like pioneering ski jumper Anette Sagen, but others are full of confidence and favoured for gold medals. They include cross country skiing queen Marit Bjørgen, biathlon skiers Emil Hegle Svendsen and Tora Berger, and downhill racer Aksel Lund Svindal, who was chosen to carry the Norwegian flag into the opening ceremonies on Friday evening. It’s the first time that a Norwegian alpine skier was accorded the honour. Svindal is taking part in his third Olympics, has set several records in the World Championships and won gold, silver and bronze medals at the last Olympics in Vancouver.
TV2 reported on Friday that multiple gold medal winner Ole Einar Bjørndalen, the veteran biathlon star who just turned 40 and is skiing in his last Olympics, had also been asked to be flag bearer, but turned it down. Speculation is running high that he may become a new member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) when he retires from active competition.
Norway is sending its largest contingent ever to an Olympics this year, including its medal-winning curling team which is ready for action in their wildly patterned new trademark trousers. They showed them off in Manhattan last week and received the expected publicity, especially in the US.