“There is something timid about the way the Norwegian men skate,” according to former national team coach Carl Henning Gran. He is not impressed with the statistics provided by NRK.no.
Friday, it was 1,462 days since any Norwegian skier other than Petter Northug made the podium in a skate race with interval start. Tore Ruud Hofstad was the most recent, when he was second (behind Ole Einar Bjoerndalen) in the Gällivare World Cup November 18, 2006.
Will be surprised
Without Petter Northug on the start list, Gran is not optimistic on behalf of the men’s freestyle race at the World Cup opener in Gällivare. “I’ll be surprised if more than two of the male cross-country skiers earn World Cup points this weekend. And that excludes the biathletes who are racing the cross-country event,” Gran said.
Gran argues that the national team is too concerned about aesthetics.
“They work very hard on style, but nobody earns points for looking graceful,” Gran said, pointing to the Russian skiers.
“There is nothing elegant about the Russians, but they are efficient.”
Behind from the start
While Norwegian skiers have always done well in classic events, they’re behind in skate.
“We’ve always been a little behind in freestyle, and we haven’t been good enough at developing good skate skiers,” Gran said.
The last time a Norwegian cross-country skier was on the podium at all in a freestyle race with interval start, was in Gällivare, November 22, 2008. That was Northug, and he was third. That is 727 days ago, and is to date Northug’s only podium finish in an interval start skate race.
Better in biathlon
Gran argues that the cross-country skiers ought to look at how the biathletes train.
“The question is whether the cross-country skiers do enough skating,” said Gran. He is also concerned about the level of Norwegian skiers in general, including classic.
“Aside from Northug, the level is not good enough,” he said.
From NRK.no, November 19, 2010. Translation by Inge Scheve
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.