Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (25) has had many unpleasant thoughts after infection in the cross-country squad – just before the Olympics start. But conversations with his girlfriend Pernille Døsvik and the family have helped.
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– There have been ups and downs in the last week, especially downs. It is clear that I have been afraid of being infected, and it came extra close when several on the national team tested positive. Not having control, as well as living with great insecurity is not a good feeling. That feeling is still there. The danger is not over at all, says Klæbo to VG.
Last Sunday, it became known that sprint coach Arild Monsen, one of Klæbo’s closest supporters, tested positive for the coronavirus on his way home from the collection in Seiser Alm. Later, the runners Anne Kjersti Kalvå, Heidi Weng and Simen Hegstad Krüger were diagnosed in Italy.
The squad has been testing itself daily lately – knowing that a positive test makes the road to the Olympics in Beijing much longer.
– Before the Olympics in 2018, you stated that you walked around with a “mentally sore throat”. How has it been this week?
– No good feeling. Uncertainty and lack of control. I’m glad I got home, and glad that most of my teammates are now back in Norway. But very sorry that Simen and Harald are still in Italy, Klæbo answers.
Klæbo came to Norway with private plane Friday afternoon, just over a day before the rest of the men’s runners. The exceptions are infected Krüger and Harald Østberg Amundsen, who shared a room with Krüger.
The ski star was picked up at Gardermoen by father and manager Haakon Klæbo, who has been alone at the cabin at Skeikampen for about ten days. Klæbo will not reveal where he will be before leaving Beijing on Monday 31 January. Joint start with ski change opens the Olympics for cross-country skiers on Sunday 6 February.
Klæbo suggests that the team and his supporters have looked at the possibilities of their own flight to Beijing.
– This is the other thing that has worked for me, so I do not have the total overview of the alternatives that were available. But alternative routes were probably considered, both to Norway and to China. I know that many worked hard for us to get to Norway after the quarantine period ended.
He was happy when he came to Norway on Friday, but thinks the “maximum” would be if the rest of the teammates also did.
In recent days, a lot of time has been spent on the internet and tense hours waiting for test results, alone in a separate room in Seiser Alm. But the 25-year-old has tried to think of “other things”.
– I have had a lot of contact with Pernille (Døsvik, boyfriend) and the family. Dad and I have had a lot of contact. And I have discussed training with Arild and grandfather (Kåre Høsflot). It has been positive for the mood, says Klæbo.
He can smile at this girlfriend joke:
– What expectations do you have for yourself in the Olympics now – what is the goal? Has the charge cost so much that it can affect performance?
– First, the goal is to get on the starting line. Then it’s about performing at your best. What this charge has cost, we will get the answer to during the Olympics. But I still think positively, even though it’s pretty tough mentally to constantly sit and wait for the next answer on the PCR test.
– How do you live with the great pressure that is on you?
– I have to live with that. I am used to expectations, and I also have high expectations of myself. That’s what I have to endure.
– Infection, bandages and muzzles are currently the main topics related to the Olympics in Beijing. What do you think about the Olympics being held now?
– I do not want to have any idea about that. As long as the Olympics are to be held, I want to do what I can to be able to participate there. That is why I live as I do at the moment.
Klæbo will defend the Olympic gold in sprint, team sprint and relay from 2018. He is one of the favorites for a joint start with ski change and five miles.
For the 15-kilometer classic interval start, he must find himself being an outsider. Iivo Niskanen has won the distance both times this winter, but Klæbo was shocked when he parked the fin on 15 kilometers classic in joint start during the Tour de Ski.