Svindal, Jacobsen head for home

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UPDATED: Norway’s alpine skiing superstar Aksel Lund Svindal has decided to drop out of the rest of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, after admitting that he just doesn’t feel up to top competition right now. Cross-country skier Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, whose brother died the day before the Olympics began, is heading home, too.

Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal did a lot better in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver than he's been doing in Sochi.  On Monday he decided to travel home. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal did a lot better in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver than he’s been doing in Sochi. On Monday he decided to travel home. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

Svindal, who carried the Norwegian flag into the arena at the Olympics’ opening ceremonies, announced in a press release on Monday that some physical ailments are plaguing him, “and I feel that it’s sensible to travel home, to get rid of them and get some new energy for the rest of the season.” His performance in his recent Olympic races has disappointed both fans and himself.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Svindal has been bothered by allergies. Medicine taken to battle them, NRK reported, has had some undesirable side-effects.

Svindal made the decision to leave Sochi along with his coaches and crew, and his announcement was released through Norway’s Olympic organization, Olympiatoppen.

On Sunday, Svindal landed in a disappointing seventh place in the Super-G, an event he won earlier. The gold medal Svindal wanted to defend went instead to fellow Norwegian downhill racer Kjetil Jansrud, who also took bronze in the men’s downhill that Svindal wanted to win as well. He ended fourth.

Svindal remains in second place overall in this year’s World Cup competition, and by giving up more Olympic competition, he clearly plans to throw his energy and talent into winning that instead of carrying on in Sochi.

Svindal isn’t the only Norwegian skier plagued by various ailments and slower skis than expected. “We’re having some allergy challenges with more of our athletes,” Dr Fredrik Bendiksen, chief doctor for the Norwegian Olympic troop, told news bureau NTB. “It’s not pollen, because there’s not much of that here. Either it’s some form of construction dust or a form of particles that are giving an allergic reaction. Some of the athletes have been given medicine for it.” They include members of Norway’s ice hockey team, which also has performed poorly.

Athletic officials also announced on Monday that cross-country skier Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen was leaving Sochi, too. She went ahead and competed shortly after getting news of the loss of her brother and training partner, and placed an impressive fourth in the women’s sprint. Her performance in both the 10-kilometer classic race and Saturday’s relay, though, were disappointing amidst allegations of waxing problems. Monday she reportedly decided herself to travel home to her family. Coach Egil Kristiansen said she had concluded that she may not be able to concentrate hard enough on the races at hand for another week.

Svindal won three medals at the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Now he’ll head home without a single spot on the winners’ podium. He had planned to compete in the grand slalom on Wednesday.

“During training on Monday, he just didn’t feel good,” sports chief Claus Ryste told NRK. “Therefore we agree that this (dropping the rest of the Olympics) is the best solution.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund