February 2011: Norway’s cross-country ski fever is reaching new heights. It’s a ski toilet in Holmenkollen. Marit Björgen becomes the queen of toilets with four gold medals. Peter Northog becomes king of the restrooms with three gold medals. Therese Johaug presents herself as the new princess of Cross Country when she goes for her first WC gold in the three-mile run.
Eleven years later, the situation is completely different. Bjørgen, Northug and Johaug put their sleds on the shelf. A number of other great personalities and medal wholesalers have done the same, such as Martin Jonesrod Sundby, Astrid Orenholdt Jacobsen and Maiken Caspersen Vala.
Marit Bjørgen knows all about the unique cross-country skiing location. In the middle, she was herself, by virtue of being the most winning cross-country sprinter of all time and a National Folk Champion by her Rogen girl’s signature moments tournament after tournament, primarily from 2003 to 2018.
Now the 42-year-old realizes that times have changed, and cross-country skiing is having a tough time.
Times are tougher. Football is rising. We have Haaland. We have the stars of athletics. There are many competitors here. It is then important to create the profiles in cross-country skiing. Everyone should contribute to raising the sport of cross-country skiing and maintaining its popularity, Marit Björgen tells Dagbladet.
– It’s important to bring in international cross-country skiing and build breadth there as well. Perhaps there are other countries on the women’s side that are rising there now. We must contribute. I will contribute my experience and knowledge.
Björgen praises North
In that sense, she’s happy to have Peter Northug back in the environment, albeit on a long-distance run.
Peter is good at figure skating. I see it getting the attention that cross-country skiing might need. Sport needs new features, as Marit Björgen emphasizes.
– Do you trust Peter for the winter?
– I would be surprised if he won something, but Peter is Peter. Nice to see that he is participating and contributing.
– the biggest challenge
Espen Bervig, the cross-country manager, is taking the situation very seriously.
How will cross-country skiing maintain its unique position with the people?
Cross-country skiing is a position for which we are very grateful, and we know that is not a given. That’s why we work every day to get better sportingly, and think of new opportunities to develop through events, marketing and media channels, Bjervig tells Dagbladet.
What does cross-country skiing mean that all World Cup races are no longer broadcast on NRK?
– We were aware that viewership would drop somewhat when not many World Cup races were broadcast on NRK. Having said that, I think Viaplay has presented our sport in an excellent way, he says and adds:
Perhaps the biggest challenge is that cross-country skiing is now shown on many TV channels. So, it can be a little confusing for viewers to see which channel the World Cup races are on individual weekends, so we’re relaying this on social media and on skiforbundet.no before the end of each race, says Bjervig.
Not least, the Norwegian women’s cross-country skiing is going through a rough time after singles have disappeared one by one.
Bjørgen put her sleds on the shelf in 2018. However, the loss wasn’t as big as it could have been, all the time Johaug was ready to take the throne.
Now Gohog gave up too. So has Orenholdt Jacobsen, while Ingfeldt Flügstadt Ostberg has barely competed in recent seasons.
Longtime runner Caspersen Falla also put it on. Same goes for Martine Ek Hagen and Marthe Kristoffersen if we go back a few years and not the least aces like Kristin Størmer Steira and the late Vibeke Skofterud of Bjørgen’s golden generation.
Nevertheless, Björgen looks positively at the future of the Norwegian girls’ skateboard.
– I’m not worried. But we may have to be more patient. We should we should. But there will likely be some who will surprise in the winter. There are good coaches who put their soul into this to push the girls forward, says the best ever Winter Olympian in Dagbladet.
– When the drunken girl gave up, there was a void too, before there were a wonderful 10-12 years. There are often runners of this type that are as good as Teresa. Maybe every ten or fifteen years. Then the difference becomes huge. It is noticeable, of course, that they disappear. But I think we can be pleasantly surprised in the winter, Tronder says.
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