Saturday, May 21

Extreme cold is raging in the Olympic village: – We had feared it

ZHANGJIAKOU / OSLO (VG) On Monday, the gold hopes Tiril Ekchoff and Marte Olsbu Røiseland woke up to 27 degrees below zero in China. Basically, races are canceled when the degree shows 20 blue.

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– There was no Easter mood. We had feared that it would be very cold, and that was it, says national team manager Per Arne Botnan to VG in China.

The biathletes are located about 200 kilometers from the capital Beijing. The Olympic city of Zhangjiakou is surrounded by mountains. The arena where medals will be fought is almost 1800 meters above sea level. Cold weather has been reported throughout the championship, and on Monday the runners really got to feel the cold on their bodies.

– We did not really think we could train, but I said we could go up to the stadium and try. In any case, we were to take out the weapons that were stored there and assemble them, Botnan says.

Both Eckhoff and World Cup leader Olsbu Røiseland had prepared well. On the slopes, the athletes went with several layers of clothing, heat cream, protective tape and cold masks. It was also crucial that the women finally completed what the national team manager describes as a good session.

– It actually got a little better than feared, Botnan says.

– It feels very cold, but due to the dry climate it was not as bad as it could have been. It felt a bit like minus 13 in Östersund, says the national team manager with reference to the Swedes’ biathlon arena in humid conditions.

An acid wind helped make minus 17 on the degree scale another 10 degrees colder alive.

IN PLACE: National team manager Per Arne Botnan was present during the session.

Liv Grete Skjelbreid (47) participated in three Olympics from 1998 to 2006, and took three medals. She believes the extreme cold in northern China is extra demanding for biathletes, although for example cross-country skiers also have challenges.

– I have gone in minus 20 myself and know how incredibly cold it is. It is in a way even worse for biathletes who depend on having feeling in their fingers. In biathlon, it is not just the breath that comes into play. You need to be able to keep warm at your fingertips. It is not easy when you put on ice-cold metal and are a little sweaty inside the glove. If you get cold there, it is difficult to get the heat back. It will be a challenging element for them in the Olympics, says Skjelbreid to VG.

– Do you think there can be canceled races over here? – It must basically be below minus 20 for them to get on the starting line at all, but I would think that it takes a lot to cancel an Olympic exercise, says Skjelbreid.

WELL PREPARED: Marte Olsbu Røiseland trained, among other things, with a mouthpiece to reduce the strain on the lungs from the cold air.

The French legend Martin Forucade has started as a biathlete, but now the 33-year-old is in China as an expert commentator for Disovery. He thinks the weather is inside for the time being.

– It is very cold and a lot of wind, but the strange thing is that it was not felt so cold as I had thought, says Forucade to VG.

The Olympics’ first exercise for biathletes is the mixed relay on Saturday, where Norway are gold favorites.

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