Jesper Pedersen helps himself to five medals at Paralympics
It was like a smorgasbord for Jesper Saltvik Pedersen. One serving wasn’t good enough, or in this case, a medal at the Paralympics, March 4-13, in Beijing. After warming up for the Paralympics with three gold and one silver at the World Para Snow Sports Championships, Jan. 8-23, in Lillehammer, Norway, Pedersen didn’t slow down and took it up a notch with four golds and one silver in Alpine Sitting LW11-12.
Pedersen started off with a silver in the downhill on March 5. He was the first out of the gate and finished in 1:17.99. The lead held until Corey Peters of New Zealand clocked 1:16.73, 1.26 better than Pedersen. Taiki Morii of Japan captured bronze in 1:18.29.
That was the last time Pedersen would play second fiddle. The following day was the Super-G. He raced to a 1:09.69-time besting Peters (+0.47) and Morii (+0.92). Despite bad weather conditions—Morii was one of eight skiers who drove off the course. A total of 16 did not finish—Pedersen led after the Super-G run and finished with a time of 1:50.23, .28 ahead of rival Jeroen Kampschreur (Netherlands) and 3.17 better than Niels de Langen (Netherlands).
“It’s cool to take the second gold today. It is really full payoff,” Pedersen told NRK.
Why stop there? On March 10, after the first runs, Pedersen led Kampschreur by 1.09 and third place by 2.11. Pedersen put more distance between the others with a 56.29 second run for a combined time of 1:54.20. He ended up 3.30 ahead of silver-medalist Rene De Silvestro (Italy) and 6.72 better than bronze-winner Liang Chen (Peoples Republic of China).
“This is what I might have hoped for after it went so well in the [World Championships], but at the same time [they were] above all expectations,” Pedersen told NRK. “Being able to do the same thing here is pretty cool. I can live long on this.”
Why not live with one more gold? He once again blitzed the field, this time in the slalom on the last day of the games. He had the top times in both runs, 41.19 and 49.91, for a combined 1:31.10, an amazing 6.08 better than second-place de Langen and 7.34 in front of De Silvestro.
Pedersen won the most gold medals at the games and received the honor of being Norway’s flag bearer at the closing ceremonies. American Oksana Masters won three gold and four silver. Parabiathlete Oksana
Shyshkova (Ukraine) won three gold and two silver. Four other athletes won three gold.
Norway won only two other medals, and Vilde Nilsen was involved in both. She earned silver in the women’s cross-country sprint Standing LW4 (4:08.1), sandwiched between Natalie Wilkie of Canada (4:05.1) and Sydney Peterson of the United States (4:12.1). Nilsen (one stage) combined with Kjartan Haugen of Norway (two stages) and Thomas Oxaal of Norway (one stage) to win bronze in the Open Parallel 4×2.5km Relay Standing LW4 in 28:41.0 behind Ukraine (28:05.3) and France (28:30.4). Nilsen led the 10-km race after the first lap but stumbled and fell, costing her a lot of time. She finished fifth.
The hosts won the most medals: 60 (18-20-22).
This article originally appeared in the April 1, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.