Norway Aiming at Five Gold Medals in SLC
By Jostein Overvik, translated by Brian Olsen
November 8, 2001
Wishes for better performances than Nagano - sans Dæhlie
GOLD MINER: Thomas Alsgaard won two Olympic
gold medals and completed his best high level competitions
in Hakuba, Japan four years ago. Norway has goals to
do even better next February in Salt Lake City and is
counting on Alsgaard to bring in the gold. (Photo: SCANPIX)
Norwegian cross country skiing is giving an optimistic view
for the first Olympics since 1984 in which they will be without
ski legend Bjørn Dæhlie. The goal is to do better in Salt
Lake City than in Nagano. They are hoping for five gold medals,
with ten medals in all.
"The goals are high, but we feel that they are realistic,"
said Sindre Bergan, the Norwegian cross country ski director.
Much of these medals are expected to come from top performances
by Thomas Alsgaard and Bente Skari.
"The skiers have goals to take more gold than they will
give out," continued Bergan, three months before the Olympics
are scheduled to begin. Other athletes that these goals rest
upon include: sprint World Champion Tor Arne Hetland, and
classic experts Frode Estil and Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset.
In Nagano, when Norway had the services of Bjørn Dæhlie,
Norway took four gold medals in cross country skiing. Dæhlie
took two gold, Alsgaard one gold, and the men's relay was
victorious as well. Last year, in Lahti at the World Championships,
Norway took four gold medals again: Bente Skari took two,
Hetland took one, and the men's relay took one. In fact, Norway
only took gold in Lahti.
Bergan cited numerous reasons why the Norwegian cross country
delegation will do well in Salt Lake City. "Veteran Kristen
Skjeldal stated that the traditional October training camp
in Val Senales [Italy] was the best that he had ever seen,"
The first competitive race in Norway will be at the traditional
location of Beitostølen next weekend. Johan Mühlegg will be
the only international racer to compete. The first major World
Cup will be in Kuopio, Finland over the last weekend of November.