News ID: 209790
Published: 0310 GMT February 11, 2018

Norway displays strength in skiing depth

Norway displays strength in skiing depth
Simen Hegstad Krueger of Norway celebrates his gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang’s Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Center in South Korea on February 11, 2018.

Norway put on a dominant show as the Norwegians swept the board in the first men’s cross-country skiing race at the PyeongChang Olympics on Sunday, and coach Tor Arne Hetland said they have more top-class skiers waiting in the wings.

Simen Hegstad Krueger broke from the pack in the penultimate lap of the men’s 15km + 15km skiathlon and went on to take the gold medal, with team mates Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Hans Christer Holund taking silver and bronze respectively, Reuters reported.

World Cup leader Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo was the only Norwegian not to get a medal on Sunday, but Hetland was in no way worried, as his charges will have plenty of chances to win medals during the Games.

“I‘m super happy for the good results from the team, and the team effort was brilliant. Tactically, everything worked out well,” he told Reuters following Krueger’s superb display.

“Every one of the Norwegian racers has their own plan, and we know that everyone who is starting for Norway has a gold chance, that’s the reason it works so well when everything comes together,” he added.

The Norwegians were dominant throughout, racing almost as a pack at times, but Hetland felt they could have been even more aggressive as the race entered its decisive phase.

“I felt they were waiting a little bit too long to do that, Holund did it on one lap and maybe he made the other nations a little bit tired, then Krueger was doing it over again and then it finally went well,” he explained.

The 44-year-old former skier praised Sundby and Holund for not jeopardising Krueger’s chances by chasing him down too hard.

“The discipline form Sundby and Holund was great, when they were waiting, waiting, waiting behind, and then when they know the gap is big enough, then they escape for the second spot.”

The Norwegians blazed away from the field, sending a warning to the rest of the nations involved in one of the most physically demanding winter sports.

Speaking to a media conference, both Sundby and Holund mentioned the number of talented skiers that the Nordic nation has at its disposal, with the silver medallist revealing that he was not guaranteed a spot in the Norwegian relay team.

For Hetland, it was a pleasant dilemma that makes him the envy of the other coaches at the Olympics.

“For sure I could have four more racers on this level, but today it was this four that was racing, and it’s great to see that it worked out so well,” he said.


Dominant Dutch


Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer set a new Olympic record to secure a hat-trick of titles in the men's 5,000m.

Kramer, 31, looked comfortable in his heat and went ahead of the pace set by Canada's Ted-Jan Bloemen with four laps to go.

He maintained his advantage to finish in six minutes 9.76 seconds, BBC reported.

Bloemen, a former teammate of Kramer before switching nationality in 2015, was 1.85 seconds back with bronze going to Norway's Sverre Lunde Pedersen.

Bloemen and Pedersen could only be separated by two-hundredths of a second after they fought out a tremendous battle in their heat.


Russian dedication


A Russian speed skater dedicated his country's first medal of the Winter Olympics to his compatriots who have been banned from the Games in "such a hard and unfair way".

Semen Elistratov, who won bronze for the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) team, is under investigation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for his comments, BBC reported.

Russia is banned from competing at the Winter Olympics but 169 of tis athletes are allowed to compete as neutrals under the OAR team banner.

After winning his bronze on the opening day of the Games in the 1500m short-track speed skating event the 27-year-old said, "I have difficulties to hold back my tears. I had said before that any individual medal will be a golden or platinum one for me. I am incredibly happy that I did it, in spite of all the circumstances around Russian sport.

"I dedicate this medal to all guys that have been excluded from these Games in such a hard and unfair way. This medal is for you."

His comments are being investigated because they appear to break the rules over making political statements.

Russia was banned because of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

"We have a surveillance program looking at the action and behavior of the OAR team and they will report back at the end of the Games to the executive board to see if not just the letter but the spirit of the law has been breached," IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said.

"It's for that expert team to look at it."

To be eligible to compete athletes representing OAR must adhere to strict guidelines set out by the IOC, including to "respect the IOC Executive Board's decision and spirit".

Other conduct guidelines include; only referring to the delegation as Team OAR, understanding that the team will compete under the Olympic Flag and that the Olympic anthem will be played at all ceremonies and also refraining from any public form of publicity, activity and communication associated with the national flag, anthem, emblem and symbol.



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