Ice princess wins hearts, not medals

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Norway’s first female Olympic figure skater in 50 years was never going to be a medal hope after just scraping into Thursday’s finals, but Anne Line Gjersem was thrilled just to be out on the ice. Earlier in the day three Norwegians took on the men’s ski cross, but none made it through to the medal race.

Norway's Anne Line Gjersem is the first figure skater to compete at the Olympics in 50 years. She's shown here performing this week during the ladies short program at the ISU European Figure Skating Championship at the SYMA hall in Budapest, Hungary. PHOTO: NTB/Scanpix/FERENC ISZA, AFP

Norway’s Anne Line Gjersem is the first figure skater to compete at the Olympics in 50 years. She’s shown here performing in January during the ladies short program at the ISU European Figure Skating Championship at the SYMA hall in Budapest, Hungary. PHOTO: NTB/Scanpix/FERENC ISZA, AFP

Gjersem looked shaky at times through her routine set to music from West Side Story, but kept her cool and never lost her footing. The 20-year-old was awarded a score of 85.98 for her free skate routine, giving her an overall score of 134.54 combined with her points from Wednesday’s short program event. Gjersem held fourth place after her routine and ultimately finished 23rd, one spot higher than her short program placing of 24th.

Gjersem told Olympic broadcaster TV2 that overall she was satisfied with her performance, but a little annoyed with herself over a few small errors, including in her pirouette. “I tend not to make such mistakes,” she said. “But I’m okay pleased. The Olympics have been a fantastic experience.” Russian Adelina Sotnikova took the gold before a rapturous home crowd with a total score of 224.59, ahead of South Korean favourite Yuna Kim on 219.11 points. Carolina Kostner of Italy took bronze comfortably with a combined score of 216.73.

Norway’s last female Olympic figure skaters competed at the 1964 Innsbruck games. The country’s most successful figure skater was ice and silver screen queen Sonja Henie, who first competed at the 1924 Chamonix Olympics at the age of 11.

Freestyle skiing
In the ski cross on Thursday morning, all of the Norwegian competitors were knocked out in the qualifying rounds. Both Christian Mithassel and Thomas Borge Lie had bad starts in their heats, and neither progressed to the quarterfinals.

Norway’s hopes then rested with Didrik Bastian Juell. He told TV2 he was coming last in his quarterfinal when he decided it was all or nothing. “Then I thought, it’s either going to be the hospital or further in the heats,” he said. “I had to give it everything. Luckily I missed the hospital. I tried as hard as I could.”

The Norwegian gave his all on the last jump of the heat, flying so far he almost broke the course record. He landed just a few metres before the finish line, but still came last and was knocked out of the finals.

Norway’s medal count after another golden day in Sochi was 10 gold, four silver and seven bronze, 21 in total. The USA overtook Germany for second place with eight gold, five silver and 11 bronze, a total of 24 medals. In third place Germany had eight gold, four silver and four bronze, 16 all up.

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate