Last week, an article on FasterSkier translated from Langrenn.com on Peter Northug’s threat to leave the National Team and compete for a private entity, generated a fair amount of discussion. Professional teams historically have not played a major role in the sport of cross-country skiing – at least not internationally. In the US, the Factory Team helped to change the sport in North America, but overall, National Teams have remained the the most important affiliation – at least outside of one’s home country. This is especially true when compared to cycling.
Norwegian Olympic and World Champion Oddvar Braa may have been a bit ahead of his time when he formed Team Post Giro after his retirement in 1989. In a 2005 interview with Inge Scheve, that appeared on XCSkiWorld.com, Braa said “We did something entirely new in Norwegian skiing. We created a corporate-sponsored team that picked up skiers who were not included in the national team structure, and it was our job to build these racers to where they could make the national teams,” he says, adding that the racers who came out of Team Post Giro are still in the news today, both on the racing and the coaching end in Norwegian cross-country skiing.”
The interview is excellent, and worth reading if you find the topic of professional teams of interest.