The Norwegian Ski Association talks very vaguely about eating disorders. They will scare us so we don’t have eating disorders. It’s scary propaganda, but it works against its purpose for those of us who sit there and listen, country skier Ronja Hackenstad-Evertsen (21) tells Dagbladet.
The 21-year-old was part of the girls’ gathering in Natrudstilen sponsored by the Norwegian Skating Association.
For Dagbladet, she is now putting the words of her experience into practice about the way the Norwegian Ski Association in collaboration with Sunn Idrett speaks on the topics of nutrition, weight, disordered eating behavior and eating disorders in skiing for young aspiring cross-country skiers.
In the media interviews I attended, this was talked about in such a way that everyone understood that there was talk of eating disorders, but the word eating disorder is almost negligible. As mentioned, it is important to eat enough food. While getting adequate nutrition is important, it’s also important to remember that not all eating disorders are about eating too little food, notes Ronja Hackenstad-Evertsen.
When the word eating disorder is first mentioned, it is about all that is horrible and distressing with it and what kind of deadly consequences can result from having an eating disorder. You think it’s important to talk about the consequences one can have in an eating disorder, but it’s important to at least highlight the nuances and not just look at the darker, more serious cases.
– They made it more taboo
The 21-year-old adds:
The Ski Association presents eating disorders as the end of the world. I talked about him at a gathering, and then they put him in the room with the eating disorder, they said afterwards. Those with eating disorders see themselves as a problem. Then you think the ski association’s actions don’t help.
If I had an eating disorder, I wouldn’t have wanted to open up about having it, when the Skating Association presents it that way. Thus they make talking about it more taboo.
Dagbladet faced Espen Bjervig, a cross-country manager at the Norwegian Ski Association, who is With all the individual allegations in the case. He answers as follows:
– Of course, I can’t question Ronja’s self-experiences at the Norwegian Skating Association’s girls’ gathering in Sjusjøen. Although I don’t recognize myself in her description of how the National Science Foundation behaves and deals with the problem of eating disorders, it’s unfortunate that they experienced this as they described it, says Espen Bervig.
– Feels like the skating federation is lying
Håkenstad Evertsen says many young girls across the country today are under the impression that the Norwegian Ski Association doesn’t dare “call the bulldozer a hoe”.
The Ski Association says you shouldn’t care what you eat as long as you eat enough. It’s going wrong. There are double standards, and you feel like the Ski Association is lying when they say the best don’t care too much about what you eat, as long as they’re getting enough. But we know that the best are losing weight before the tournament and are aware of what they are eating, the 21-year-old told Dagbladet.
– what are they saying?
– They should say it as it is, and that the diet is carried out at the highest level under the supervision of experts. Håkenstad Evertsen thinks they have to be honest this is happening at the top, but the youngster shouldn’t mess with the weight at such a young age.
That’s exactly what Olympic champion Ragnhild Haga said candidly at Dagbladet earlier this fall, while Olympiatoppen followed up and detailed how they work with so-called weight improvement in athletes.
It can be difficult for some older trainers to talk about improving nutrition. She tells Haga Dagbladet that we should dare talk about it, detailing how it relates to weight improvement, all the time coming up with several warnings for young skaters who want to copy the best of older ones.
It’s a long way to go, before it needs to be a factor of performance. Haja pointed out that when I was a teenager, I would never have thought of that.
Small space to do things differently
Ronja Håkenstad Evertsen loves to go her own way and think outside the box.
She claims that she did not like the meeting with the Norwegian Ski Association at the rallies.
– If you mean something different from those who give lectures, it is unpopular in the Skating Association. The 21-year-old believes there is little room to do things differently.
This is how you also experience that generally in a cross-country environment for skate girls of this age.
– You should do what others do. Everyone is concerned about what others are doing in a cross-country environment. It creates the pressure of expectations and the good girl syndrome. Everything must be perfect. It is an interface.
The Øystre Slidre IL cross country skier explains:
Skate girls should do well in school, look good on social media, have the perfect look, eat the right food, train the right way, have the cutest girlfriend and flatten their stomachs in pictures. Everything must be perfect; It is very unhealthy for a ski environment.
Håkenstad Evertsen thinks the Norwegian Ski Association is saying something different than what they say.
It’s ironic and double standards when the Ski Association says we can eat whatever we want, but then the actions show something else. When we make dessert in the group, it is watermelon with berries on top. There are only healthy sweets in NSF kits… they say one thing, then we do something completely different, Håkenstad Evertsen thinks.
The 21-year-old misses talking about diet and nutrition becoming more natural.
Talking about it becomes taboo, because if you ask a coach about food, you will get stamped as an eating disorder, even if you try to gain knowledge about how to eat as sensibly as possible like a cross-country skier.
– Now little skaters don’t dare ask about nutrition and weight until it’s too late and gives way to an eating disorder. It is forbidden to talk about these topics until they occur. You think we can save a lot if we talk about it before the eating disorder develops.
– Hope Ronja is in direct contact with me
Cross country coach Espen Bervig is facing criticism. He says:
– We’re always interested in improving, so I hope Ronja will contact me directly so we can get concrete input on how to do things better next time, says Bjervig and adds:
– The topic about eating disorders and the implementation of practical sessions where food is prepared, is carried out in collaboration with Sunn Idrett at these girls’ gatherings, the director told Cross Country.
Ronja Hackenstad-Evertsen answers this question for Dagbladet:
Just send my contact information to Bjervig if he’s really interested in improving, says the 21-year-old with a smile.
And she adds:
Even if someone is unsure of what they are eating and thinks it might be wise to lose a few kilos to get in shape, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s necessary to turn on all the warning lights, go into crisis mode and diagnose an eating disorder with a gang.
There should be room to talk about diet and weight loss without having to go out of it as much. Because it is part of the best sports. Plus, I think it’s very rare to talk about how to prevent an eating disorder, says Ronja Hackenstad-Evertsen.
In 2020, Dagbladet received an anonymous letter about alleged and widespread problems with disordered eating behavior up and down the classes in Norwegian cross-country skiing. Many in the community spoke loosely of the same thing. But those were just individual allegations and stories. No one has researched this field in 16 years.
Was it really that bad? We wanted to investigate. For nearly a year, Dagbladet, using new journalistic methods and through hundreds of human encounters, has researched the extent of disordered eating and eating disorders in our national sport of cross-country skiing and biathlon.
We performed extensive and certified x-ray measurements, hormonal testing, and psychological testing for documentation. We have also studied the long-term effects of several years of nutritional deficiencies among athletes. Dagbladet also used proprietary technology and analyzed large amounts of data in the search for answers.
What we found didn’t just confirm the rumours. It was much worse.
Experts say the results are grim. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be telling a completely unknown story about Norway’s national sport – and documenting it.
Read all cases here
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