OSLO, NORWAY – The International Ski Federation (FIS) wants to introduce yet another race format on the cross-country World Cup. In February 2012, racers might face a 10K event in Szklarska Poreba (POL) where the first part of the race is a pure uphill climb while the second half of the race is a descent down an alpine run.
“We think this race format can be an exciting addition during a season with no major international events in cross-country,” Vegard Ulvang, chair of the FIS cross-country committee, told the Norwegian newspaper Nettavisen.
The suggestion was first proposed during the FIS fall conference earlier this month. Nettavisen surveyed the sentiment among Norwegian elite racers, and the verdict is crushing.
“What? Are they adding moguls and big-jumps too? This is the biggest B.S. I’ve heard in a long time. There’s a reason we’re cross-country skiers, not alpine racers,” said a clearly-agitated Eldar Roenning. “FIS has got to start listening to the athletes. I really wonder what Vegard Ulvang would have said if these kinds of race formats had been introduced while he was racing,” Roenning continued.
Martin Johnsrud Sundby didn’t know whether to consider the idea a serious suggestion.
“I’m not even sure I’m going to waste my energy commenting on that. Why don’t they add whoop-de-doos and moguls while they’re at it, and maybe finish with a big air jump and style points too,” Johnsrud Sundby told Nettavisen, and continued: “Ski cross has already been invented, could you mention that to Ulvang?”
“That doesn’t sound serious,” Simen Oestensen said. He doesn’t know what to think of the suggestion. “As a part of the World Cup it sounds a little too far out, if you know what I mean. It would be different if it were just a spectator entertainment event at the very end of the season,” he said.
Oestensen said he thought the limit for new formats has been achieved in cross-country skiing.
“It’s a little risky to invent and introduce too many new race formats at once. The veterans who already think there are too few 50 k events will hardly be amused and excited by this,” Oestensen commented.
Oeystein Pettersen was also not ecstatic.
“I suppose it’s good that they are interested in developing the product, but I think we’re good on race formats for a while now. I think the FIS needs to look at the possibilities in marketing the actual events, so that they appeal to a broader range of spectators,” Pettersen said.
“Just look at the city sprint and how popular those are. Spectators get more from these events in terms of live music, concessions and vendor booths. There’s nothing wrong with the current race formats, it’s the marketing and presentation of the events that need help,” he said. “People who want to watch downhill racing buy tickets to alpine events.”
The proposed competition format will be tested at a lower level this coming season. The experiences and evaluations from those test races will determine if the rather bizarre event will end up on the World Cup schedule.
From Nettavisen.no, October 8, 2010. By Anders Skjerdingstad, translation by Inge Scheve
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Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.
October 14, 2010 at 12:39 pm
My first thought was “Is it April 1st already?”
October 14, 2010 at 1:44 pm
I am not on board with this for World Cup, this sounds more like Spring Series.
October 14, 2010 at 2:07 pm
The new format, or even xc ski cross, has merits. But wouldn’t it be a bit more prudent and politically tactful to introduce new formats at the OPA, U23 or local FIS levels first? If the new format gets good reviews and you work out the bugs in the minor leagues, then maybe bring it up to the majors / World Cup level. There would probably be less controversy by going that route.
October 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm
A test event for the uphill/downhill format is planned for this spring–according to Jurg Capol, they’ll probably invite some domestic-level athletes and some World Cuppers…
October 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm
There is an interesting cultural statement here: Vegard comes up with a unique idea and fellow Norwegians exclaim: “BS! You are an idiot!”. While North Americans say: “Right on Vegard! That’s awesome!” Seems like the only BS here is the way Norwegian skiers treat a national hero.
Perhaps Vegard should get the message … it’s time he left Norway and moved to North America. There are lots of places in the US and Canada that would be excited to have him move in. And he’d get treated nicely here. I’d think a really good fit for him would be Alaska (but I am very biased). Maybe Fasterskier should start a “Save Vegard From Norway” campaign and encourage him to move to this side of the pond.
October 14, 2010 at 4:28 pm
Upper Michigan would be another great choice. I met Vegard in Thunder Bay in 1994 and am a big fan. He can help me design the Keweenaw Mountain Challenge route I’ve been dreaming of.
October 14, 2010 at 5:11 pm
AK is the black hole of the US – good “eastern” people go there and never emerge again. Vergard would be a good fit in AK. They love to make 5 mile downhill runs on x-c skis there – just visit that crazy performance backcountry x-c site http://crust.outlookalaska.com The Viking would be a good addition to this nut-bag’s world for sure.
October 14, 2010 at 6:04 pm
It’s kinda cool that the letters B.S. mean the same thing in Norway that they do in North America!!!!!
This can be a cool event–if it is done right—FIS should take it’s time and develop a real course for this event—yes, uphill for 5 kms with xc skiing in it and then 5 kms down with xc skiing in it—not just crazy up and then crazy down.
Here would be a great place to pull this off in Canada—Silver Star/Sovereign Lake Centers—-mass start at Sovereign and ski up Aberdeen to the top of Silver Star and then down Paradise Camp right into the center of the village—this would be a great race. Lots of up and down, but also a lot of just xc skiing. Now we need to get it on the calendar for December 2011.
October 15, 2010 at 8:55 am
I agree with the Norwegian athletes there have been enoff new inventions lately. For me its hurting my intrest. I like the sprints and the Tour de Ski but not the mini tours the sprint relays or the mass starts.
And as was said by some of the guys ski cross is allready here.
October 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm
There is already a world championships for randonee skiing. The FIS could have slipped this in a lot easier if they just said they will have a race with one big hill. I think some skiers may like this and those that don’t can skip it. It will give an opportunity to have yet another specialist. -JM
October 18, 2010 at 8:50 am
If it were up to the Norwegians they’d still have the army go out on wooden skis to groom the trails.
October 20, 2010 at 1:23 am
teamepokeedsbyn, and of course Marty and Mats, you guys are always welcome to be “nut-bags” in AK. Let me know if you need a place to stay.
I’m thinking Vegard has been to AK at least 3 times. He climbed McKinley one year. His brother was with him and almost drowned while crossing Wonder Lake. And of course tragically, his brother later drowned while crossing a Lake in Norway. Vegard was also in Kodiak once doing an adventure show with Bjorn D. and a famous cook. And I believe Vegard and other skiers came to AK and went hunting with Audun. I know for sure a bunch of the A team Swedes came and went hunting with Audun.
Epoke: Right now the nut-bags are going full throttle in AK … it’s election time! It’s insane.
October 20, 2010 at 2:01 am
#If it were up to the Norwegians they’d still have the army go out on wooden skis to groom the trails.
True Norway has been very conservative in the past, but that dosent make it wrong. I mean the current behavior of fis seem to indicate that anything new is good and it really is not.
And how can fis state they wanna focus on the allround skier and at the same time create another potensial specailty ?
I mean thats the reason they have for poping all the ridiculous mini tour evrywere.
Sprints and the Tour de Ski have been positive changes, the other new race formates that have been introduce are destroying my intrests in the sport and i would rather have the old style races.
Look at Biathlon it dosen`t seem like they are in a desperat ned to reinvent there sport evry year and they seem farily succesful.
October 20, 2010 at 3:30 pm
I agree with you Lars. But … when sports organizations, like the FIS for example, get in bed with cable and television networks, the sports organizations give up some control of their sport for money. Networks don’t care, when it comes to the bottom line, about a sport’s heritage or tradition. When it comes to marketing winter sports, networks will choose the marketing model they believe can turn the best revenue. And that model is most often the “X Games” model these days. If a winter sport can be modified to have a “crash and burn” side to it, then the networks will back the sport and give it good air time. That’s why snow-cross now overshadows snowboard slalom, ski-cross is on par with GS, SL and SG and freestyle aerials get more network time than traditional Nordic jumping. These changes to sports with past tradition allowed the sports to be repackaged and sold under the marking vision of the networks.
By cross country skiing relying on networks to grow the sport’s exposure, the growth will not be in a traditional way. It’s selling skiing its soul to the devil, as the saying goes. Keeping tradition will be an uphill battle, but it’s probably a battle that Norwegians are willing to fight in for a long time. So that’s good. As long as networks call the shots, be ready for more crash and burn xc race formats and eventually xc ski cross. And somebody will probably come up with the “great” idea of biathlon ski cross pretty soon – envision a pack of racers catching big air with guns on their backs!
October 20, 2010 at 7:47 pm
Audun, Kelley, Vergard, Boonstra, Galanes, et al…all fell into the black hole that is AK and never to return…all friggin nuts! I’m gonna stay in the refined State of Confusion on the east coast and watch Sarah Palin’s Alaska TV show tonight baby! I might even shoot a few ducks on the Lemon Fair River tomorrow AM 🙂
XC Skier-X with full contact checking and sick fights allowed – I promise some tv ratings with those events!
October 29, 2010 at 10:08 pm
Winter X games in Aspen 2010 sets 14 records. Watched by 43 MILLION world wide. The Owl Creek Nordic trail crosses between the jumps on Buttermilk that they use for the X Games. How many watched the Owl Creek Chase 21K that next weekend which had several pre, post and current Olympians in the Field? Maybe 100 and they were volunteers or parents. Lets do what it takes to get our athletes recognized and compensed appropriately.