Cross-country skiers Heidi Weng and Anne Kjersti Kalvå are very unsure of the Olympics after they tested positive for the coronavirus. Olympiatoppen and Skiforbundet have a list ready with possible replacements.
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– There is a “longlist” since we are going to China. There is a visa requirement and a long application deadline, so we have registered several athletes. Quite a few in fact, who earlier in the season have done quite well, which made them possible for the Olympic squad, says cross-country manager Espen Bjervig.
Weng and Kalvå are going according to local rules in Italy in isolation for ten days – until Thursday 3 February, said national team doctor Øystein Andersen. The first exercise (joint start with ski change) for the women is February 5, which the duo will not do anyway.
A positive test so close to the Olympics that will now make it difficult to get to China, and Andersen says that it is too early to conclude whether Weng and Kalvå can go to the Olympics.
In any case, Norway can only send eight athletes to China. Thus, one must eventually decide whether Weng and Kalvå will travel down, or whether to give someone the chance from the “longlist”. In other words, if a reserve is sent down, the place of one of the infected athletes will be vacated.
Ragnhild Haga is in place in Seiser Alm and has participated in the run-up as a reserve.
– Now there are so many loose threads, so much happening and many races going on at the same time, so we have not concluded anything yet. But it is a longlist of athletes who have been accredited, says Bjervig.
– We have a reserve in the squad with Ragnhild, and others who are accredited and can be ready. But right now the focus is on looking at the possibility of those who have been taken out with time and health aspects for when and if it is possible to join the Olympics, Bjervig continues.
Silje Theodorsen, Ane Appelkvist Stenseth and Anna Svendsen went on the Tour de Ski, but have not been taken to the Olympics. It is easy to assume that they are practitioners who are on such a “longlist”.
Silje Øyre Slind, Astrid Øye Slind, Elena Rise Johnsen and Karoline Simpson-Larsen also have strong results from Beitostølen during the national opening.
Helge Bartnes, winter sports manager and assistant top sports manager at Olympiatoppen, says it is a demanding situation. It is also challenging to send new athletes to Beijing where the competitions are going high.
– There are reserves and athletes on the “longlist”. There are quite a few, but it is of course difficult to jump into an Olympics when it is at altitude and far away with a different time zone, says Bartnes.
The men’s sprint coach, Arild Monsen, tested positive for the PCR test on Monday. Bartnes says that there are several coaches and managers on such a longlist.
National team coach Ole Morten Iversen tells VG that he and the Ski Association are now working hard to find solutions. It is currently uncertain when the Olympic squad in cross-country skiing can travel down.