Love in times of coronavirus: the surreal situation of Olympians Kilde and Shiffrin

Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde has grabbed the spotlight this season not so much for his performance on the slopes, but also for his romance with American star Mikaela Shiffrin, a love story put to the test by the pandemic in Beijing.

After the first relegation training session on Thursday, Kilde admitted that living in the same Yanqing Olympic village with Shiffrin is a "nuisance" due to the strict health protocol imposed by the Chinese organizers due to the covid-19 pandemic.

"Everyone says: ‘Great, you can spend a lot of time together and it’s nice to have her around’, but it’s quite a challenge because with the covid restrictions we have to be very careful"explained the 29-year-old Nordic skier.

"It’s kind of annoying: you see her, but you can’t really touch her or spend much time with her"added Kilde, who nevertheless admitted some advantages.

"It’s nice to have her here, of course we can eat together, that’s not the problem. We are enjoying it, but other than that there is nothing special"revealed.

Due to the restrictions, the participants in the Beijing Games live in a bubble and must wear a mask all the time, they are subjected to daily tests and face-to-face meetings are limited.

This situation is especially embarrassing for these two skiers who are part of the group of favorites to win medals in the Games that officially begin on Friday.

Fear of contagion

Kilde will seek the podium in the speed, downhill and super giant events, while Shiffrin, a specialist in the more technical events, will try to clinch a third Olympic gold, after having achieved it in slalom in Sochi-2014 and in giant in Pyeongchang-2018 , although given her quality, the 26-year-old American will be a favorite in any of the tests in which she participates.

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"We keep the same routine as always, we talk to each other by videoconference. We have to be careful because if we get infected with covid, the consequences are devastating"explained the Norwegian before the possibility of being excluded from the competition if they test positive for coronavirus.

There’s nothing special about talking on the phone, says Kilde. "We talk about how we feel, about experiences, about making decisions, about skiing in general, but not too technical".

"She sends videos to me every day and I to her and we try to learn a little about each other. I still have to learn a lot from her"admits Kilde, referring to the more technical tests, in which Shiffrin is a true specialist.

Asked how he is going to celebrate Valentine’s Day (February 14), Kilde replied: "Well I guess with my roommate, staying in the bubble".

"Is 14 right?"he asked laughing, before adding: "I don’t know if I’ll still be here, but if I am, we’ll see… nothing special… or maybe a little special".

As for his sporting expectations, Kilde was confident after a good start to the season in the downhill and super-gi events.

"As I see it now, there is the possibility of doing it well, but, bearing in mind that some Games are very special, anything can happen".

"I feel some pressure, but nothing different from other races, because there has already been a lot of pressure all year and the results have been good."concluded Kilde, winner this season of three downhill races and as many super-giant races and who is second in the general classification of the World Cup.

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