2/20/2014 2:58:00 PM Sochi Update: Injury derails Nordgren's fast start
This is Nordgren's view from atop the biathlon hill each morning in Sochi, Russia.
by JEFF NORTON
Of all the obstacles Leif Nordgren has had to overcome to get to Sochi, Russia, little did he know the biggest obstacle would be his own nerve in his back. Nordgren, the Marine on St. Croix native who is competing in the biathlon in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, has had a tough two weeks in the small Russian coastal town. For a background on the local competitor, check out last week’s edition of the Chisago County Press, or find the story on chisagocountypress.com Nordgren posted a 45th place finish in the Sprint 10km event, a 53rd place finish in the 12.5km Pursuit and an 83rd place finish in the Men’s Individual 20km.
But, it’s all been done with a bum back that Nordgren tweaked in his first race of the Sochi Games. “As far as performances are concerned I'm pretty bummed with how things have gone. In the Sprint race on Saturday, Feb. 8, I had an awesome race going, I'd shot 10 for 10 and left the range for my final loop around 30th place,” Nordgren explained. “Unfortunately, I somehow pinched a nerve in my back during the last loop. The pain was extremely severe, and I almost pulled out of the race, but since it was about halfway through the last loop I was able to basically coast into the finish. I lost a lot of time because of that and ended up 45th.”
Even with that finish, Nordgren thought he was in a pretty good place to start for the pursuit, but he missed seven out of his 20 shots, and he fell back quite a bit in the race. The 20km result was especially disappointing for Nordgren since he felt that was his best event going into the Olympics. “In the past thats been a race where I've gotten some of my best results, so I was looking forward to it quite a bit.” Nordgren is still battling in his own events, so he hasn’t been able to mingle amongst fellow Olympians much, but he is looking forward to that. “For the most part my experiences have been pretty low key. I haven't actually left the endurance village since I've been here,” he said. “To the normal person I'm sure endurance athletes can seem a little nerdy, but too much standing or walking around can have a negative impact on performance so we try not to do too much of that in the two or three days leading up to a race. “However after the individual tomorrow night I'll have probably five days until my next competition, so I'm looking forward to getting off the mountain and down to the coastal village cluster!”
Although Nordgren hasn’t been able to visit that main part of the village, he says his experiences with Sochi have been nothing but great. Early in the games, many athletes and journalists noted the poor conditions of the village and many pictures went viral. That isn’t the case in the Endurance Village, Nordgren said. “Everything here at the endurance village is pretty immaculate. The biggest problem we've had here is the internet not being so reliable, but everything else like food and housing has been top notch!”