Norwegian skier Aksel Lund Svindal won three medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games and was considered a favourite to add more medals to his collection in Sochi, but things did not go according to plan.
After a Monday training session, Svindal made the decision to withdraw from his final race at the Olympics. His reasoning for doing so certainly will certainly raise a few eyebrows. That reason? Allergies.
“There’s a lot of athletes that have some allergy against something here,” Svindal told The Associated Press.
“I think it’s something from the concrete that’s in the air, like some fine dust. When I got here, I felt it, too. The doctors knew exactly what it was, because they gave me allergy medicine right away. It helps, but it’s kind of draining.”
Svindal has competed in three events thus far in Sochi and fell short of medaling in each. Svindal finished fourth in the downhill, eighth in the super-combined and seventh in the super-G on Sunday.
“It’s the point of no return,” Svindal’s coach Havard Tjorhom said. “He’s not feeling too good. This way, he’ll try to get better and have some energy left for the rest of the World Cup season.”
Svindal will skip the giant slalom event on Wednesday. He had already planned not to participate in the slalom next Saturday night. He’ll stick around in Sochi through the end of the games, then fly to central Europe then to Norway to compete in a World Cup stop the weekend following the conclusion of the games.
“It’s a tough decision. But I think it’s been in the back of my mind for some days,” Svindal said.
“The fact is, even though I was close to medals, (these were) actually the worst races I did this year. That’s how stable the season has been.
"When that happens, I think you need to analyze and see what’s different. The only thing I can find that’s different is that I have to use medicines because of allergy.”
Svindal’s Norwegian teammate Kjetil Jansrud has picked up the slack for his allergy-laden countryman, winning gold in the super-G and bronze in the downhill.
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- Aksel Lund Svindal