PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal skipped the slalom leg of the men’s Olympic combined event to avoid running the risk of injuring his knee in difficult conditions, his team mate Aleksander Aamodt Kilde said.
The 35-year-old Svindal, who was forced to cut short his last two seasons because of knee injuries, finished second fastest in the downhill run but failed to start the slalom on Tuesday.
“He has this knee,” Kilde said. “So he tried on the warm-up but icy conditions, really, really bumpy, so he decided not to risk the other races by skiing.”
Svindal said after the downhill run that the slope had been made fast and bumpy by the high winds, joking that he should have practiced his slalom over the previous two days as he had not taken part in the technical event for more than two years.
With the downhill run on the wind line on a shortened course, it was almost inevitable the gold medal would go to a technical skier and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher duly won his first Olympic title with a blistering slalom run.
Kjetil Jansrud, the other Norwegian medal contender who earlier suggested the conditions had not been fair to the speed specialists, was fourth fastest in the first stage but finished seventh overall after recording the 19th fastest slalom time.
The 32-year-old raced past reporters but a later Tweet made clear his feelings.
“‘Eat up and look happy’ my parents told me when I was little and had a dinner I did not like. Very good lesson for the day. I gave everything I had, Norway.”
Svindal, who won a medal of every color in Vancouver in 2010, will attempt to add the Olympic downhill title on Thursday to his impressive collection of trophies.
Editing by Ed Osmond