The Norwegians competing for Olympic gold on Sunday are Emil Iversen, Pål Golberg, Hans Christer Holund and Johannes Høsflot Klæbo. It emerged from a press release from the Norwegian Ski Association on Saturday morning Norwegian time.
– Impossible results behind
That means Erik Valnes, who has covered two distances so far at the Olympics, is doomed. Most recently on a Friday, Valnes ran. He finished 15th in the classic 15km and two minutes and 12 seconds behind winner Iivo Niskanen.
– There can be no sports results behind this relay. That’s for reassurance. Valnes has delivered better results than Iversen all season, says NRK expert Fredrik Aukland.
– He has given more than well enough and is showing in the current championship that he is very relevant for the first stage of the relay.
– Don’t Norwegians study?
Aukland is now showing that Norway is once again in the same situation they were during the Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018. Then Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen and Didrik Tønseth had to go to the relay stage respectively without doing a single rehearsal beforehand.
Although it ended in gold for both sexes at the time, it didn’t go well for either of them.
– It failed then. Isn’t Norway studying? asked Aukland.
– Completely different situation
Versatile coach Eirik Myhr Nossum says Iversen himself has prepared himself and thinks he can do a great job on stage.
He justified Valnes’ withdrawal and rejection by saying that “history comes into play with physical form and that the relay is a mental strain for athletes”.
However, Nossum said the following:
– I agree that using athletes who have never done anything is risky, he said, and thus responding to Aukland’s suggestion that Norway has not learned from what happened four years ago:
– Now this is a completely different situation from what it was there.
– Aukland’s task to create conflict
Cross-country manager Espen Bjervig was also placed in the press zone to maintain a special draw.
– Running fast in cross-country skiing has many variables. Everyone has a different body, shape and then there is acclimatization and height. And if you’ve had two bad attempts (Tønseth and Jacobsen in 2018) before, then that has nothing to do with it not working this time.
– So for that I say that it is Fredrik Aukland’s job to create conflict and debate in Norwegian cross-country skiing.
Full conflict earlier this week
The turnaround in the Norwegian Olympic camp came as a very minor surprise. Emil Iversen attacked ski management earlier this week.
Trønderen claimed to NRK that he was promised a place in the 15-kilometer team on Friday. But he was crushed in favor of Erik Valnes. Iversen said frankly that he felt stabbed in the back by his closest leaders.
After a lengthy conversation with cross-country manager Espen Bjervig and a few days later, he will still be in action and help defend Norway’s relay gold medal from the Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018.
Aukland at least states that the risk of gold slipping now is much greater than if one had opted for a man like Valnes.
– I mean based on Iversen’s achievements this year. But first and foremost because he hasn’t competed in the Olympics. I think it is an advantage to walk some distance at this height before going off the relay. It’s a high-stakes game, say NRK experts.
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