Axel Teichmann always thought that the stabbing pains in his legs at the end of races were a normal consequence of exerting himself. But revelations have emerged from Norway that he has actually been hamstrung by Haitian voodoo, practiced by none other than Teichmann’s chief rival, Petter Northug.
The news of the witchcraft came out when reporters from Norway’s Dagbladet found Northug in the team’s locker room before one of the races at the World Cup Finals in Sweden. The room was dark, lit only by candles, but Northug was still wearing his Casco headwear and chanting in a strange language.
“It was bizarre,” said Trond Sandli, one of the reporters who stumbled on Northug. “He had a broken One Way pole in one hand, and was using it to bludgeon this Barbie doll wrapped in a German flag. You could tell exactly what was going on the minute you walked in there—the doll was the spitting image of Axel, down to that stupid goatee.”
Sandli also said that he saw Martin Johnsrud Sundby, one of Northug’s teammates, off in a corner doing a strange dance.
This is not the first time that champion cross-country skiers have been observed practicing odd superstitions. In the 1970s, American Bill Koch used to levitate before big races, and more recently, David Chamberlain would pound an entire two-liter bottle of Moxie before domestic events.
The repercussions of Northug’s antics are as yet unclear. He says he was merely acting at the behest of his team’s seven sports psychologists, who told him that the voodoo was the best way to intefere with Teichmann’s Teutonic powers.
Teichmann says that he intends to file an official complaint to the International Ski Federation (FIS), but FIS Race Director Jurg Capol was still hung over from the season-ending celebrations in Sweden and was unavailable for comment.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.