The sport of cross-country skiing has changed dramatically over the past decades. In a recent blog post, Vegard Ulvang, Chairman of the FIS Cross-Country Committee and an Olympic and World Champion, gathers some opinions and states the need to keep looking forward.
Reading newspapers and speaking to Cross-Country fans, athletes and coaches from different nations can sometimes be an interesting task. Here are some of the strongest quotes from the last months:
“Everything was better before. All the mass starts and bonus points and ski exchange have destroyed our sport,” say the Swedes.
“We must have more mass starts in the beginning of the season, else we lose interest and viewers in Germany”, says Jochen Behle.
“The many different distances, events and techniques have brought CC in wrong direction”, says biathlon star Ole Einar Bjørndalen.
“We want more action, more sprints and more city sprints”, say the Norwegian sprinters while others claim that this year’s calendar has too many sprints and too few relays.
Over the last 20 years Cross-Country has developed from a sport where every racer skied the same race weekend after weekend through the whole winter into a sport with two techniques and distance and sprint races. Therefore we have to expect discussions and various opinions. And not to forget that 22 different nations have taken World Cup points so far this season, and that we all come from different nations with a different ski history and cultural backgrounds. All the different opinions and discussion is after all positive for the development, and to be preferred over silence.
Development of a sport is not always a result of a decision in a FIS Committee. The skating technique developed because of better grooming machines and racers that looked for the fastest way to the finish line, and the sprint events developed because skiers born with the quickest muscle fibres also wanted to compete. Only one thing is sure: We cannot turn the clock backwards and dream about the good old days. In the FIS Cross-Country Committee there is no one asking for a removal of any of our events. Only time and interest will show if and when there is time to take away something.