KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — For Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, a fourth-place finish never felt so good.
The Norwegian cross-country skier was back on the snow on Tuesday, competing in the women's freestyle sprint at the Sochi Olympics four days after her younger brother died on the eve of the games.
The death of Sten Anders Jacobsen, which came "suddenly and unexpectedly" according to the Norwegian team, has cast a pall over the world's best cross-country squad since then and became one of the talking points of the games after the country's skiers wore black armbands in his honor during the women's skiathlon on Saturday, drawing a reprimand from the International Olympic Committee.
While Jacobsen's race may not represent closure, it was a step toward normality again for Norway ahead of the coming events.
"I think I'm the most satisfied fourth-place finisher at the Sochi Olympics," Jacobsen said in a press release sent out by the team. She did not talk to reporters after the sprint final.
Fourth is often considered the worst place to finish at the Olympics as it's just outside the medals, but there was no doubting Jacobsen's sincerity in her statement. She would have had a chance at a medal had she not broken a pole in the final, but had to watch teammates Maiken Caspersen Falla and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg take silver and gold instead.
"The broken pole may have been what stood between me and a medal in the sprint," Jacobsen said. "But a lost medal isn't so important today. For me, it was a victory to race."
After the race, she tweeted a photo of Sten Anders with a link to a YouTube video of Norwegian singer Morten Harket's song "Brother," and the message: "Good as gold."
Sten Anders Jacobsen was his sister's training partner and was well-known within the close-knit Norwegian team. Falla and Oestberg both embraced Jacobsen after the sprint final in another emotional scene in the finish area. After Marit Bjoergen won the skiathlon on Saturday, the four Norwegians who competed in that race all cried as they hugged each other. Bjoergen and bronze winner Heidi Weng wept on the podium.
"Astrid showed that she is really strong, and I'm really proud of her," Oestberg said.
Jacobsen, who is second in the overall World Cup standings, is still likely to leave Sochi with a medal or two. Norway is an overwhelming favorite in the women's relay on Saturday, and a victory there would definitely be good as gold.
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- Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen