Sunday, January 16

Olympic match with Bjørndalen: – Easier with the pandemic

KUL CURLER: Torger Nergård (47) has represented Norway internationally for four decades, since the junior WC in the early 1990s – and since then in 13 WC for seniors and five Olympics. In 2010, he won the silver medal with Team Ulsrud in Vancouver. The picture is from the European Championships – his 19th – in Lillehammer in November this year.

Torger Nergård (47) will equal the same old Ole Einar Bjørndalen’s number of Olympics in Beijing. The veteran and father of the family believes that the pandemic has been a good thing for him in the preparations for his sixth winter games.

– If the world had been like in the old days, we would certainly have traveled more this year – and especially last year. Now I have been able to work, train at lunch and in the evening. It has been easier to achieve than if everything had been open. It has almost been easier with the pandemic, the curling national team’s flagship answers questions about how the pandemic has behaved for them.

He utters a chuckling “hmmm” confronted with the fact that not all of Norway’s Olympic-ready athletes would agree.

– We have trained well. Okay, really. We have definitely put some sticks in the cross, he emphasizes.

Torger Nergård married the curling national team’s Marianne Rørvik in Las Vegas five years ago. The couple has two children, Torger Nergård made his Olympic debut in Salt Lake in 2002, won Olympic silver in 2010 – with the trademark “clown pants” – and partially gave up one year after the Olympic sixth place in 2018 – before making a comeback a year and a half ago .

He has played 418 international matches, and jokingly notes that perhaps only Dordi (Nordby, 57) has more. A couple of weeks ago, he went with ships Steffen Walstad, Markus Høiberg, Magnus Vågberg and Magnus Nedregotten undefeated through the Olympic qualification in the Netherlands.

NEW GANG: Steffen Walstad (left), Markus Høiberg, Magnus Vågberg and Torger Nergård (right), after the victory against Italy in the Olympic qualifiers in the Netherlands in mid-December.

This means that Norway’s curling men enter the Olympic tournament as the seventh best team, after the six directly qualified from the WC.

Unlike previous Olympics, they are not considered medal favorites and candidates. More like an outsider, as they may have been at the Pyeongchang Olympics four years ago.

– On a “given day” we may have the opportunity to beat them. But we are not medal favorites, he says.

Scotland (Great Britain in the Olympics), Sweden and Canada are big gold favorites ahead of the Beijing Olympics, where the men’s tournament starts on February 9 – the day after Norway’s mixed doubles pair (and married couple) Magnus Nedrebotten / Kristin Skaslien hopefully repeated the bronze medal success from Sør- Korea in 2018.

– The first challengers are Switzerland and the USA, and then we come to the next layer, says Torger Nergård.

In terms of motivation, he adds that it is extra fun to beat those who are professionals – ie the five mentioned curling nations – “for us amateurs”.

For that is what he rightly considers himself to be.

VISESKIP: Torger Nergård is ready for his sixth Olympics, in Beijing from 9 February. The picture is from the European Championships in Lillehammer in November.

– No, it is a hundred / hundred, he answers questions about the distribution job / curling is 50/50.

– One hundred percent work, one hundred percent curling and one hundred percent family. It is 24 hours a day. Three times eight hours of work, curling, the family, that is 24, is his explanation for the “impossible” percentage estimate.

However, he points out that “we” manage, with financial support from Oppdal sponsor Minera Skifer and a B-scholarship from the Olympic Summit.

– We are good. We have no income (from curling), we have to work. But there is also no cost. It is time that is a cost, says Torger Nergård.

– Will this be your last Olympics?

– I have quit so many times that I do not want to say anything. But there will probably not be 400 more international matches, he answers VG’s questions.

PS! Ole Einar Bjørndalen was wrecked for what could be his seventh Olympics in Pyeongchang in February 2018.

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