February 13, 2022
By Mitch Phillips
ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – The gruelling nature of cross-country skiing was laid bare on Sunday when Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold, on the verge of winning a medal in the women’s 10km biathlon, hit the wall, plummeted back through the field and collapsed on the finish line.
Fellow Norwegian Marte Olsbu Roieseland had been ahead and clear en route to her third gold of the Games, but Tandrevold, 25, was locked in battle with Swede Elvira Oeberg behind her.
With only around 300m to go, however, Oeberg forged clear as Tandrevold came to a virtual standstill. She recovered enough to start gliding, but skier after skier passed her and another Norwegian, Tiril Eckhoff, took bronze before Tandrevold eased across the line in 14th place.
Such was the sudden nature of the turnaround that the Eurosport TV commentator called Tandrevold as the bronze medallist, not realising his mistake until minutes after the race.
Tandrevold immediately collapsed to the snow — not a particularly unusual sight after cross-country and biathlon races — but needed lengthy medical attention before getting to her feet and being helped away.
“She tried as hard as she could and she did everything to follow Elvira,” Norway team doctor Lars Kolsrud told journalists.
“She went empty on top of the hill and hardly got to the finishing line. When she got there she was very sad and sorry, because she lost this medal and she was all empty for power. She was not unconscious but she was very, very exhausted.
“She said nothing except: ‘I’ve spoiled everything’.”
Tandrevold, a relay gold medallist at the last three world championships, finished fifth and eighth in the sprint and individual Olympic races during the week and had been hoping to take part in two further events.
“We will talk to her and see her and see that she get the proper food and proper drink tonight and then the days that follow and we have to decide whether she should compete anymore,” Kolsrud said.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips and Phil O’Connor, editing by Clare Fallon)