Last year, Norway’s Marit Bjoergen skipped the Tour de Ski due to a heart arrhythmia. Sidelined by a virus, Petter Northug may skip the Tour de Sk this winter.
Sweden’s Expressen reports that Northug contracted a virus last Friday and will be compelled to miss two weeks of training at a minimum, and possibly up to a month.
Northug’s coach, Eirik Myhr Mossum, said that he is considering dropping the Tour de Ski to prepare for the Olympics, coming this winter in Sochi. “It can happen, but it depends on how long it takes to recover from the virus,” he said to VG.
Recovery has been described as two weeks of rest, which means that Northug will miss a planed altitude camp in Italy. After which Northug could resume easy training. If his body responds well, he could ramp up the pace.
“He has to take it easy for two weeks before we push the start button. Then he’ll start from scratch and take it easy before he starts running in middle and then he can start training hard….he can start training hard in four weeks if all goes as planned,” said Mossum.
Norwegian commentators are of two minds on Northug’s illness. According to VG, former Olympians Torgeir Bjorn and Frode Estil believe that Northug’s training base is so deep that the virus is only a hiccup.
“Petter is so well trained, the illness doesn’t mean much…. It can be a great opportunity to rest a bit, although it can be frustrating not to train,” Estil told VG.
Northug on his way to victory in the 15 km, Val di Fiemme, 2013:
Bjorn believes that so long as Northug is back to regular training by 1 November, he’ll be ready for the Olympics.
But Frederik Aukland disagrees. “Yes, I think it might affect his season. To miss training in September and October is critical. This is a period of intensive training, usually with a portion at altitude and gradually transitions to snow,” Aukland, who coaches Dario Cologna, told VG.
At best, illness will be a momentary setback and Northug will adjust his training accordingly. At worst, Northug may skip the Tour de Ski, a prize that’s eluded him, and his preparatin for the Olympics may be compromised if he doesn’t recover completely.