Tough weather conditions have been a topic of conversation at the 2022 Winter Olympics. The men’s skiathlon proved to be the latest race impacted by the man-made snow.
Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo was expected to contend for a medal, but finished a surprising 40th in the race. Klaebo is competing in his second Winter Games, after stealing the spotlight in PyeongChang with three gold-medal finishes.
Klaebo didn’t hide his frustration with the conditions on the course. After the race, he spoke in his native Norwegian, but his reaction roughly translated to “I’m just an ass”.
While Klaebo avoided blaming the weather, his fellow competitors didn’t hold back. Irish skier Thomas Maloney Westgard explained what makes the conditions so tough, "dry snow and heavy going on the course, it was something else. I have never experienced a tougher race than today.”
Initially, Klaebo did well enough to stay with the front group, but fell behind after the change to freestyle skiing. His lackluster performance is especially surprising since he leads the FIS cross-country World Cup standings at the Olympic break. His fellow racers thought he maybe intentionally bowed out of medal contention. While Klaebo is typically strong in distance and sprint, the sprint events are his specialty.
Eventual winner Alexandr Bolshunov remarked, "I think he (Klaebo) felt that it wasn't his day today. He chose to finish the race, but he has probably decided that the sprint is more important to him."
In addition to Klaebo’s disappointing performance, no Norwegian finished on the podium in the men’s skiathlon after sweeping the podium in 2018. The Oslo native will look for redemption on Tuesday. The men’s individual sprint free final starts on Feb. 8 at 7 a.m. ET.