Petter Northug (NOR) has been on a roll recently, winning three gold medals at the World Championships and then besting sprint specialist Ola Vigen Hattestad in the first World Cup sprint following Liberec.
Northug has come under constant criticism for his cocky and disrespectful attitude. He has routinely made headlines in European papers for his lack of tact. In one notable incident, after taking out Swede Thobias Fredriksson in a sprint, he told the press that Fredriksson was “too big to go around, almost half-fat.”
The young Norwegian star seems to have a personal rivalry with German Axel Teichmann who takes umbrage at Northug’s unwillingness to lead in races and his general disrespect for his competitors. In the 4x10km relay in Liberec, Northug caught Teichmann on the fourth leg and sat behind him until the final sprint. Northug’s response is that they don’t give medals for taking turns leading, and until they do he will use whatever strategy he can to win.
Said Teichmann, “You need more than success to be a star. He doesn’t behave like a champion.”
So the question is, can Petter Northug rise to the ranks of the great Norwegians like Ulvang, Daehlie, and Alsgaard if he doesn’t clean up his act?