Mike Miller

Petter Northug
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2-time Olympic XX ski champion admits to possession of cocaine, speeding

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OSLO, Norway — Two-time Olympic cross-country skiing champion Petter Northug has admitted to possessing cocaine, speeding and driving under the influence.

The Norwegian great, who won two gold medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and is a 13-time world champion, retired from the sport in 2018.

“I made a big mistake,” the 34-year-old Northug wrote on Facebook. “I was driving way too fast and was also taken to the emergency room for blood test. In addition, the police found a smaller amount of drugs at my house. It’s about cocaine.”

After being stopped for speeding, police searched his home and found the cocaine.

On Monday, prosecutor Silje Haugerstuen Bergsholm told Norwegian news agency NTB that Northug is facing preliminary charges for speeding for driving 168 kph in a 110 kph zone, driving while under the influence of a substance and possession of narcotics.

Preliminary charges are one step short of formal charges. No date for a trial was immediately set.

“I am despair and afraid of what the future will bring, and incredibly sorry for all those who I have now disappointed, again. I know it will now be a criminal case. Then I will take responsibility for what I have done,” Northug wrote Friday, a day after the offenses.

In 2014, Northug crashed his car in Norway while driving under the influence of alcohol. He fled the scene and later apologized for the accident in which a male passenger broke his collar bone.

Luge officials ‘well-prepared’ for full World Cup season

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The International Luge Federation is still planning for a full 10-race international season this fall and winter, though it has yet to say what protocols will be added to deal with the coronavirus.

The FIL released a slightly updated plan for the season Thursday, with no changes to the previously announced schedule and locations. Races will be held in seven different countries, including a World Cup stop in Lake Placid, New York, on Jan. 23 and 24 hosted by USA Luge and the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

“ORDA feels they’ll be well-prepared for our World Cup here in January,” USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy said Thursday. “They’ll have enough information to protect the athletes.”

Thursday’s schedule announcement was largely about detailing which cities will host sprint races and team relays as part of the World Cup stop.

The season will begin as usual at Innsbruck, Austria on Nov. 28 and 29, followed by races the next three weekends in German cities – Altenberg, Oberhof and Winterberg. After a Christmas and New Year’s break, the tour resumes Jan. 9 and 10 in Sigulda, Latvia, then the following weekend in Konigssee, Germany and then the race in Lake Placid.

From there, Whistler, British Columbia will play host to the world championships. The weekend of Feb. 20 and 21 sees athletes visit the newly built Chinese track near Beijing – the site of the 2022 Olympics – followed by the season finale on the 2018 Olympic track in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“I really think it’s going to come down to just creating a safe environment, having people be comfortable and taking the right safety precautions,” said Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer, the longtime USA Luge slider and the athletes’ representative on the FIL Executive Board. “It’s not going to be an easy task … but it’s kind of the reality that we’re facing right now.”

Travel restrictions are likely going to be in place, and the FIL is weighing many options to protect athletes – including, Leahy said, the possibility of having races without fans. It’s all with the primary goal, he said, of getting through all 10 race weeks safely.

“Next season is important because it’s the start of Olympic qualification for a number of teams,” Leahy said.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is also working through several different scenarios for next season, one that has Lake Placid set to host the world championships over the first two weeks of February. For now, the IBSF schedule remains unchanged with nine events still set to take place in six different countries – including China, where the coronavirus pandemic originated.

In January, plans to have athletes from all three sliding sports visit the new track at Yanging, China in March for the facility’s homologation – a certification process that must take place before a new track can play host to races – were canceled, and that was when the virus was being blamed for only about 170 deaths. The virus has now been the cause of more than 484,000 deaths globally, according to data collected by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The homologation has since been rescheduled for this fall, though it remains uncertain which athletes will take part. Typically, such a process involves athletes from virtually every country that has sliding federations taking test runs to confirm a track’s safety.

Ex-Paralympian rower found dead during California-Hawaii voyage

Angela Madsen
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HONOLULU — The body of a paraplegic woman rowing from California to Hawaii was headed to Tahiti after she was found lifeless in the water over the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

A friend of Angela Madsen, 60, contacted the Coast Guard Sunday after not hearing from her for more than 24 hours, Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir said.

Madsen, who had been at sea for 59 days, was about 1,145 miles (1,842 kilometers) east of Hilo, Hawaii, when she was last heard from, Muir said. Madsen had been planning to go for a swim.

“She was out in the middle of the ocean, with not really anything around,” Muir said.

The Coast Guard reached out to commercial vessels in the area of Madsen’s last known location and asked an Air National Guard flight crew headed from California to Hawaii to fly over the area.

The air crew “could see that she was in the water, tethered to the vessel, but there was no reaction to their presence,” Muir said. “She was unresponsive.”

The Polynesia, a ship in the area, retrieved her body. “Now they’re continuing on their scheduled course and they’re going to take the body to Tahiti, where the family will do whatever they need to do to get her home to California,” Muir said.

Madsen’s family couldn’t immediately be reached Thursday.

According to a website, Madsen was a three-time Paralympian and Marine Corps veteran who aimed to be the first paraplegic and oldest woman to row the Pacific Ocean.

“We are processing this devastating loss,” said a message on the website by Debra Madsen, her wife, and Soraya Simi, who was making a documentary about her. “To row an ocean solo was her biggest goal. She knew the risks better than any of us and was willing to take those risks because being at sea made her happier than anything else. She told us time and again that if she died trying, that is how she wanted to go.”

In 2014, while getting ready to row from California to Hawaii, she said rowing is a venue where partially paralyzed people can excel.

“You get out of your chair and just get on a boat and nobody knows the difference between you and anybody else out here,” Madsen said.