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NORWAY

PROFILE: Norway’s ‘complete competitor’ Aksel Lund Svindal

Norwegian colossus Aksel Lund Svindal will go down in the annals of alpine skiing as one of the very best after claiming world silver in his farewell downhill race on Saturday.

PROFILE: Norway's 'complete competitor' Aksel Lund Svindal
Aksel Lund Svindal celebrates third place in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images/AFP Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images North America / AFP
Coming in just two-hundredths of a second behind teammate and close friend Kjetil Jansrud was the perfect send-off for the 36-year-old Svindal.
 
Svindal has been one of the stars of the ski circuit with 11 titles (overall-2, downhill-2, superG-5, giant slalom-1, combined-1), 36 victories (14 downhill, 17 super-G, 4 giant slalom, 1 combined) and 80 podiums in 17 
seasons on the World Cup.
   
In addition to being a two-time overall World Cup champion (2007, 2009), he is also a five-time world champion in downhill, giant slalom and super combined, and won Olympic golds in the downhill (2018) and super-G (2010).
   
Standing 1.89m (6'2″) tall, Svindal said he was prepared for the next stage of his life.
   
“I think I'll miss it not in a sad way, in a way that is 'That was awesome',” he said. “But even good things come to an end and you can think back at all the good memories.”
   
The ever-modest and affable Svindal, be it speaking in his native Norwegian or fluent English or German, pinpointed respect as the one thing he wanted to take with him from skiing.
   
“This is an awesome sport, not just the racing part, but the respect between the racers,” he said. “There's a lot of things this sport can be really proud of and I'm part of that sport so that's something I want to try and take with me into other things I do. I hope I contributed on that side in the sport as well.”
 
 'Amazing career'
 
Norwegian teammate and long-time World Cup 'Attacking Viking' confidant Jansrud was full of praise for Svindal.
   
“There are not many people who get to retire with such an amazing career,” he said.
   
Svindal made his World Cup debut in 2002 and went on to become the oldest Olympic alpine ski gold medallist when he swept to victory in the 2018 Olympic downhill in Pyeongchang.
   
In between, many kilometres of downhill skiing were covered by the racer credited as an outstanding role model and driving force behind the Norwegian team's winning philosophy of keeping it simple.
   
Svindal retires as one of the most decorated skiers ever, having being crowned world champion five times, twice picking up the crystal globe for best overall skier, as well as winning a medal of each colour at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
   
He is a complete competitor who has also had to overcome some horrific injuries, none less so than when he crashed in Beaver Creek in 2007. He also sat out the 2015 season and most of 2016 because of injuries.
   
But Svindal is known for his supreme physical conditioning, and each time he bounced back.
 
US ski star Lindsey Vonn, who ironically races her final downhill on Sunday, has forged a deep friendship with Svindal, often training together.
   
“When athletes in the past have retired, I've been the same way, 'No, you can do it, keep going, anything is possible',” she said. “But as an athlete, when you get to that point, you just know in your gut that it's time.
   
“Aksel is in the same position as I am. We are both kind of accepting where we are at the moment and it's just nice to be able to talk to someone who is going through the same thing as I am at the exact same time.”

NORWAY

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

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