March 02, 2010

Abu Muqawama Salutes Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset

The David Brooks love letter to the people of Norway in today's New York Times is worth reading. A true profile in courage from the nation of 4.7m people that has won more medals than any other nation in the history of the Winter Olympics:

He was hunted by about 50 Germans and left a trail in the deep snow. He’d lost one boot and sock, and he was bleeding from where his big toe had been shot off. He scrambled across the island and swam successively across the icy sound to two other islands. On the second, he lay dying of cold and exhaustion on the beach. ...


A 72-year-old man rowed him the final 10 miles to the mainland, past German positions, and gave him skis. Up in the mountains, he skied through severe winter storms. One night, he started an avalanche. He fell at least 300 feet, smashed his skis and suffered a severe concussion. His body was buried in snow, but his head was sticking out. He lost sense of time and self-possession. He was blind, the snow having scorched the retinas of his eyes.

But I couldn't read the op-ed without thinking about Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset, who, when asked about his team's second place finish in the cross-country relay in this year's Olympics, delivered what is surely the greatest quote in Olympic history and perhaps the greatest quote by an athlete to the media since Eric Cantona's famous "seagull" speech:

My name is Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset. I skied the second lap and I f---ed up today. I think I have seen too much porn in the last 14 days. I have the room next to Petter Northug and every day there is noise in there. So I think that is the reason I f---ed up. By the way Tiger Woods is a really good man.