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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Northug quietly served his time

Top Norwegian skier Petter Northug, disgraced in a drunk-driving accident last year, disclosed this week that he’s already finished serving his detention time by wearing an ankle cuff that restricted his movements for 50 days this spring. He also paid a fine of NOK 185,000 (USD 24,000).

Petter Northug, with one of his gold medals from the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2015. PHOTO: Nordic Focus/FIS Photo Pool
Petter Northug won more gold medals at the Nordic World Ski Championships this past spring, but then spent 50 days wearing an ankle cuff that controlled his movements, as part of his punishment for a drunk-driving offense. PHOTO: Nordic Focus/FIS Photo Pool

“I’ve taken my punishment, I’m finished with that,” Northug told his local newspaper in Trondheim, Adresseavisen, on Thursday.

Northug arguably got special treatment and secured a relatively lenient sentence given Norway’s mandatory jail terms and high fines for drunk driving offenses. Instead of having to spend his 50-day sentence in a prison, he was allowed to wear the cuff that kept him confined to specific areas. That also allowed him to keep up his training schedule throughout the duration of his sentence.

“It’s been challenging but I’ve done my job, which is training,” the 29-year-old Northug told Adresseavisen. “That’s all I want to say about it.”

Northug also had his driver’s license revoked but otherwise was allowed to keep up his professional cross-country skiing career. He was sentenced to 50 days in prison and fined last year, but the court and prison authorities postponed his custody period until after the winter sports season, during which he excelled and claimed more gold medals at the World Championships.

His sentence thus began after the season ended, and ended last month. His appearance at a roller-skiing race in Sunne, Sweden last weekend, where he was beaten by his Swedish rival Calle Halfvarsson, was his first outside the country as a free man again.

Northug was arrested after fleeing the scene of the crash that occurred when he drove his sponsored Audi A7 at excessively high speed and ran into a guardrail in Trondheim. Northug was found to have a blood-alcohol rating of 1.65 and also was charged with leaving his injured passenger in distress.

The drunk-driving spree by Northug, already known for his bad behaviour when he performs poorly, stunned the sports world and not least his sponsors. Audi summarily dumped him but grocery store chain Coop kept him on. Northug has said he intends to continue skiing professionally, setting his sites on the next World Championships in Lahti in 2017. He remains involved in a conflict, though, with the national skiing federation over his private sponsorships and the effect they’ll have on future participation on the national ski team. Berglund



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