Norwegians forgive Northug

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A new survey indicates that Norwegians have forgiven skier Petter Northug, who got drunk last spring and then set off on a wild ride around Trondheim before crashing his sponsored Audi. Now his fans just want him to win medals at the Nordic World Ski Championships that start in Falun, Sweden on Thursday.

This is how Norwegian skiing officials prefer to see their gold medalist Petter Northug, like here when he and the relay team won during the world championships. PHOTO: Stian Broch/Oslo 2011

Petter Northug aims for more gold medals like those he won here at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo in 2011. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (lower right) has some plans of his own to win in Falun as well. PHOTO: Stian Broch/Oslo 2011

Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that the survey, conducted by research firm Norstat for NordicBet, showed that fully 65 percent of 1,022 people questioned wish Northug well. Only 11 percent did not wish him well, while 24 percent weren’t sure what they thought about Norway’s bad boy of skiing.

Northug said through his manager, Are Sørum Langaas, that he found it “very inspiring to know that the Norwegian people are behind me and the team.”

He’s been back up to pranks during the run-up to the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships and joked at a press conference on Wednesday that he was grateful the ski trails in Sweden had been prepared so he could more easily win on them.

The championship starts Thursday with the classic sprint for both men and women. Northug holds silver medals in the event from the last two world championships. “It’s the gold I’m lacking,” Northug said on Wednesday. “I’ve won the 15 (kilometer), the 30-kilometer and the 50-kilometer. So I will gladly fight for the gold tomorrow.”

Norwegian skiing sensation Marit Bjørgen, meanwhile, is favoured once again to do well at Falun after winning virtually everything there is to win in cross-country skiing. Bjørgen also recently was nominated for the Laureus World Sports Academy’s “Sportswoman of the Year” award, which annually honours athletes for remarkable achievement and is considered the “Oscar” of sports.

Bjørgen is one of only five nominees including tennis player Li Na of China, downhill skier Tina Maze of Slovenia, four-time world shot put champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand and runner Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia. The awards will be presented in Shanghai in mid-April.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund