Norway and Russia literally collided when the Nordic World Ski Championships ended Sunday with the tough men’s 50-kilometer race. The ensuing drama capped a week of triumph otherwise for Norway, which totally dominated the competition and collected 32 medals, only to leave with some bad feelings on all sides.
The drama climaxed when Norwegian skiing star Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, who’d already won a pile of mostly gold medals, tried to get around arch rival Aleksander Bolsjunov of Russia just before the finish line. Klæbo’s left ski pole hit Bolsjunov’s right pole, which promptly broke.
Klæbo thus skied over the finish line first, followed by teammate Emil Iversen and then an extremely upset Bolsjunov. Klæbo, though, was later disqualified because of the incident, leaving Iversen with the gold medal and a bitterly disappointed Bolsjunov with silver. Simen Hegstad Krüger of Norway took bronze.
Norwegian officials protested Klæbo’s disqualification but even some Norwegian commentators think Klæbo made a move that was far too risky and ultimately backfired. “He (Bolsjunov) broke his pole with his own knee, but it’s Klæbo who started the situation,” said Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK)’s commentator Torgeir Bjørn.
Klæbo tried unsuccessfully to speak with an angry and sobbing Bolsjunov, and initially told NRK that he felt he “came in on the side (of Bolsjunov),” who “tried to squeeze me out. He had lots of room on his left, but this is an incredibly sad ending.” Klæbo felt he’d won, but quickly left the stadium with no further comments after learning he’d been disqualified.