Olympic champion, 38, dies in tragic accident

The sporting world has reacted with shock and sadness over the tragic death of Olympic gold medallist Vibeke Skofterud.

The Norwegian cross-country skier died in a jet-ski accident at 38, Norwegian authorities said on Monday.

Skofterud was reported missing on Saturday and her body found on Sunday morning on a small island near the town of Arendal.

“All the indications are that it was a jet-ski accident,” Sveinung Alsaker of the local police said in a press release.

Skofterud won gold in the 4 x 5km relay at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010.

She was also part of the team that won the same event at the 2005 and 2011 World Championships.

Norway’s gold medalists (L-R) Vibeke W Skofterud, Therese Johaug, Kristin Stoemer Steira and Marit Bjoergen attend the medal ceremony for the women’s Nordic Cross Country Skiing 4×5 km relay event at Whistler Medals Plaza during the Vancouver Winter Olympics on February 25, 2010. AFP PHOTO DDP / MICHAEL KAPPELER (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)

She finished on the podium 15 times at World Cup events before her retirement in 2015.

“I have lost one of my best friends,” said Therese Johaug, a teammate in the 2010 and 2011 medal-winning teams, via the Norwegian Ski Federation.

“A friend who illuminated the room when she came in, spreading her energy, love and attention all around her.”

Marit Bjorgen, who has 15 Olympic medals, more than any Winter Games athlete, and won gold with Skofterud in 2010, said: “I’m shaking, I’m shocked, I’m stupefied.”

It’s the second tragedy to rock the Olympic community in the last week, after British rising star Ellie Soutter was found dead on her 18th birthday.

The snowboarder won Great Britain’s only medal during the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival in 2017, when she took bronze in the women’s snowboard cross.

with agencies