Marit Bjørgen could once again claim her crown as Norway’s ski queen after leaving fellow skiers far behind in Sunday’s 30-kilometer World Cup race at Holmenkollen in Oslo. One of them, though, was her Norwegian teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, who collided with a light pole on an icy track and was rushed to hospital.
Jacobsen is also the skier whose brother died just before the Winter Olympics began in Sochi. His death prompted the Norwegian women to wear black armbands, for which they received a reprimand that later was withdrawn. Jacobsen herself bravely tried to carry on with competition but ended up heading home to Norway early, in mourning.
On Sunday she suffered another major setback in the unusual skiing accident at Holmenkollen. Witnesses say she lost control of her skis in a swing, hurtled off the course, under a safety net and crashed into the padded metal light pole.
Emergency crews arrived quickly at the scene, with a team coach reporting she was unresponsive, injured and nauseous. The team’s physiotherapist later reported that she hit her head, shoulder and hip against the pole but scans showed no serious injury: “When I headed back to Holmenkollen and said goodbye to her, then came the tears but also a smile,” Torger Hansen told newspaper Dagsavisen, adding that there was, in the end, “no great drama over this.”
Bjørgen, who was unaware of Jacobsen’s fall as she swept over the finish line, was among those deeply disturbed by Jacobsen’s misfortunes. “This is the last thing Astrid needed,” Bjørgen said. “Astrid has had so much pain recently, and then this happens, too. It’s unfair.”
Therese Johaug, who finished the demanding 30-kilometer race just behind Bjørgen to claim second place, was also sorry to hear about Jacobsen’s accident along the course. “Astrid has had enough lately, and she’s had many accidents earlier,” Johaug said, referring to Jacobsen’s broken back in a cycling accident in 2009. “Astrid absolutely didn’t need this.”
The 33-year-old Bjørgen, who skied the 30K course in one hour, 20 minutes and 55.7 seconds, could nonetheless celebrate another victory on Sunday and came even closer to winning the overall World Cup for the season, which will end at Falun in Sweden next weekend. Third place in Sunday’s race went to Kerttu Niskanen of Finland, who finished two minutes and 25.8 seconds after Bjørgen.