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Legendary Ole Einar Bjorndalen faces uphill struggle to make seventh Olympic team

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Legendary Ole Einar Bjorndalen faces uphill struggle to make seventh Olympic team
Legendary Ole Einar Bjorndalen faces uphill struggle to make seventh Olympic team

The eight-time Olympic winner turns 44 later this month but has not given up hope of earning a seventh homeless staff in PyeongChang.

He was two minutes and 15 minutes away from the pace in an episode in which he maintained Olympic gold only four decades back from Sochi, refusing to speak with journalists since he crossed the line.

Norway took a group of six in the last Games and Bjorndalen is now the seventh-ranked Norwegian on the overall World Cup rankings. Along with his mood won’t be lifted by the four national team-mates who finished in the top 15 in Oberhof, underlining the obvious changing of the guard.

It usually means the stress is on for next weekend events in Ruhdolding, in which Bjorndalen will compete at the 20km sprint event knowing there isn’t any allowance for error.

But, Norwegian national trainer Siegfried Mazet insists there’s still hope for the most decorated athlete in the history of the Winter Olympics, together with 13 podium places because he made his debut in the 1998 Games in Nagano 20 years back.

“Everything is still open, the train hasn’t left yet,” said Mazet.

Team-mate Emil Hegle Svendsen was one of three Norwegians in the top five supporting Fourcade, together with Johanne Thingnes Boe and Tarjei Boe standing third and fifth respectively.

“It was a difficult afternoon but nothing is determined. There is not any reason he can’t have a good day following week, selection for this team is obviously hard.”

But, Bjorndalen’s former team-mate Halvard Hanevold, that joined forces with him to win relay gold at Salt Lake City and Vancouver, is less than convinced about the veteran’s opportunities.

“Ole has a major job to do to reach the Olympics,” he told Norwegian television.

“It wasn’t a fantastic sign that he lost two minutes in pristine cross-country ski in Oberhof. It’s not just getting to the Olympics, but also obtaining a distance there.”