An expensive Audi A7 sedan belonging to Norwegian skiing star Petter Northug roared though a rotary intersection in Trondheim on Sunday, tore down road signs along the way and then crashed into a guardrail. Police told reporters that the car was traveling at a high speed and they suspect drunk driving, but wouldn’t confirm whether Northug himself was behind the wheel.
Police told reporters that one of the two persons in the car ran away from the scene of the crash, which occurred early Sunday morning. “We searched for him with police hounds and the man was found at his residence,” Solfrid Lægdheim of the Sør-Trondelag Police District told Trondheim newspaper Adresseavisen. “We suspect drunk driving, and blood tests have been taken of both who were in the car.”
Both have been charged in the case and also were sent to hospital for medical checks after the collision, which left Northug’s car a total wreck. One of the occupants of the car was described as having suffered minor injuries. The other was undergoing police questioning. The driver of the car reportedly has been offered a defense attorney in the case.
Neither Northug’s manager nor police would identify the occupants of Northug’s car, and manager Are Sørum wouldn’t say whether Northug was in the car.
“Petter’s car has been involved in a traffic accident, I can confirm that,” Sørum told website VG.no. “He is in dialogue with the police. This has become a police case. I can’t say any more now.”
Northug, age 28, is from the Trondheim area and VG earlier has reported that he received the Audi as part of a sponsorship agreement with Audi valued at around NOK 1.1 million.
Northug, who left Norway’s national team last year to conduct his own skiing career, ended up having a highly disappointing ski season. After years of winning both World Championships and Olympic medals, Northug came home empty-handed from the recent Winter Olympics at Sochi and performed poorly in other international competition. Often considered the “bad-boy” of Norwegian skiing because of a surly image and perceived arrogance, he also became known for his penchant for poker playing.
He was supposed to have taken part in a charity run in Stavanger on Sunday along with other top Norwegian athletes including alpine skier Aksel Lund Svindal, but VG reported that Northug dropped out of the event last week.
Sunday’s accident occurred around 5:30am on General Bangs veg in Trondheim, where the speed limit is posted at 40 kilometers (around 25 miles) per hour. Police reported that the car’s speed was higher than that but hadn’t been officially determined.