Olympics: No Pyeongchang for former champion Northug

Former Olympic cross-country skiing champion Petter Northug has failed to make the cut for the Pyeongchang Games, the Norwegian Olympic Committee said on Wednesday.

Olympics: No Pyeongchang for former champion Northug
Petter Northug. File photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB scanpix

Northug, 32, won two golds, a silver and a bronze at the 2010 Winter Games and has 13 World Championship titles, but he has been in poor form lately.

“He's been sick a lot and not taken part in many races,” the head of the Norwegian Olympic Committee, Tore Øvrebø, said.

“And he hasn't been that fast in the ones he has taken part in. So, ultimately, he didn't make the team,” he told a press conference.

Northug skipped a World Cup race in Slovenia last weekend after coming down with the flu, reducing even further his chances of being selected for Pyeongchang, though Norway's Olympic Committee had not totally ruled it out.

“There were doubts up until the end,” Øvrebø said.

READ ALSO: Norway's Winter Olympics superstar Bjørndalen not picked for Pyeongchang


Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire

Norway's legendary biathlete Marit Bjørgen, who won a record eighth gold medal at the Winter Olympics in February, on Friday said she would call it quits at the age of 38.

Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire
Norwegian biathlon legend Marit Bjørgen. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

“I don't feel I have the motivation required to give 100 percent for another season, that's why I'm quitting,” she told public broadcaster NRK.

“I thought it would be easier to say. I'm emotional. It has been an epoch in my life, over 20 years. So it's a bit special to say that this is my last season as an elite athlete,” she said.

Bjørgen underlined her status as an all-time great in the sport at the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea earlier this year, when she grabbed a record-extending 15th Winter Olympics medal, winning the 30km cross country to put Norway top of the final medals table.

The Olympian had earlier become the most successful winter games competitor of all time by finishing third in the team sprint free.

Her bronze with Maiken Caspersen Falla put her on 14 Olympic medals, outstripping fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who has 13 in the biathlon.

Bjørgen is also the second most successful woman at either the Summer or Winter Games, trailing only Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina with 18 medals.

She was showered with tributes from fellow athletes, and politicians, after the news broke on Friday.

“She was terribly important to me, she was my idol,” said Therese Johaug, a seven-time world champion and former Olympic gold medallist who was suspended after failing a drug test.

“You have been a source of inspiration and a role model, you made us jump with joy and scream with excitement,” former Norwegian Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on his Twitter account.

Bjørgen claimed her first World Cup victory in Dusseldorf in October 2002 and her first Olympic medal (silver) in Salt Lake City the same year.

She gave birth to her first and only son, Marius, in 2015.

Norway, a country of 5.2 million people, enjoyed a barnstorming Winter Olympics, breaking the United States' 2010 record of 37 medals at a single winter games.

Bjørndalen, the most decorated male Winter Olympian in history, also announced his retirement this week, saying he would quit at the end of the season at the age of 44.

READ ALSO: 'We are not super-human': the secret to Norway's Olympic success