Norwegian skiing sensation Johannes Høsflot Klæbo won lots of medals last week, but came home from the World Championships in Austria to face a day in court this week. On Wednesday he lost his driver’s license, was sentenced to a 16-day suspended jail term and ordered to pay a hefty fine after a traffic accident that injured two people.
The court in Klæbo’s home district of Sør-Trøndelag ruled that Klæbo was guilty of a lack of regard for safety and reckless driving, followed by a “panicky” reaction in which he mistook the gas pedal for the brake pedal.
The accident occurred when the 22-year-old Klæbo crashed into a car that had stopped at a cross-walk in his hometown of Trondheim in December. The other car had stopped because the 12-year-old girl was in the cross walk. When the car driven by Klæbo struck the other car, it was pushed into the crosswalk, hitting the girl. She suffered minor injuries, while the passenger in the car ahead of Klæbo broke a bone in his back and was laid up for six weeks.
Klæbo testified that he was driving home from town when he approached a roundabout at what he claimed was relatively low speed. He thought the car in front of him stopped suddenly: “I didn’t register that he’d braked,” Klæbo said in court, adding that he then, in a state of panic, mixed up his own pedals.
“Instead of braking I hit the gas pedal, and accelerated into the rear of the car in front of me,” Klæbo testified.
Klæbo accepted his sentence on the spot, but later published an altered photo of himself as a convict on social media that critics claimed mocked his sentence. His humourous response to his conviction was branded as “distasteful” and disrespectful.
Now Klæbo won’t be able to legally drive for the rest of this year. Since he already had several traffic violations on his driving record, his driver’s license was revoked for nine months.
The skier ignored all questions from reporters in the courtroom and wouldn’t allow any photos in or outside the courtroom. He’ll be back in the public eye this weekend, however, skiing another 50-kilometer race at Holmenkollen in Oslo that’s part of World Cup competition.