Nations Cup Ranking: 1st (9899 pts)
Men: 1st (5249 pts)
Women: 1st (4650 pts)
2010/2011 A Team
Tord Asle Gjerdalen
Martin Johnsrud Sundby
Kristian Tettli Rennemo
Ola Vigen Hattestad
John Kristian Dahl
Astrid Uhrenholt Jacobsen
Kristin Stoermer Steira
Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg
Maiken Caspersen Falla
Kari V. Gjeitnes
What You May Have Missed Last Season
The complete lack of Norwegian men’s distance skiers behind Petter Northug Jr.
Everyone knows Northug dominated the World Cup last year. The man can win everything – distance, sprint, skate, classic, individual mass start, under-water basket-weaving: you name it, he will win it. He’s got a love him or hate him type of personality, but you cannot deny that Northug has the skills to get it done.
The rest of the Norwegian distance men, however, proved that they cannot get it done, as their display of skills – or lack thereof – showed, during the Olympic relay as well as in the overall World Cup.
After Northug, the next best Norwegian male on the distance points list was Eldar Roenning. Roenning was 25th, which is respectable for most nations, but in Norway, it’s a bit of a disaster. To draw comparisons to a major North American sport, it’s as if the New York Yankees fielded a squad of Derek Jeter and eight Little Leaguers, or if the NHL’s Alexander Ovechkin scored only 10 goals all season, or if the NFL’s Brett Favre actually retired and stayed retired. It’s that unheard of.
And after Roenning, it doesn’t get much better. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, one of the most inconsistent skiers on the circuit, was 28th, while Tord Asle Gjerdalen (you may recognize him from his sunglasses) was 35th, and the fifth-highest ranked Norwegian male was Ronny Andre Hafsaas. In case you forget, Hafsaas was the biathlete who won the first race of the season last year in Beitostolen, Norway, then promptly dropped biathlon for cross-country and a spot on the Olympic team – only to compete in one race and do very poorly. For recording a win on the World Cup, you are awarded 100 points towards the overall standings. Can you guess how many Hafsaas finished with? That’s right – 100.
What You Should Know For This Season
While the distance boys are in for another rough season, the Norwegian sprinters are without a doubt the best in the world.
While Ola Vigen Hattestad struggled last year, sprinting is notoriously fickle, and it can be tough to be as dominant as Hattestad was in 2008 – 2009, when he won eight of the 10 sprint races he entered. No less than eight Norwegian sprint men pack the top 30 in the sprint rankings. In addition to Northug in second, Hattestad was fifth, John Kristian Dahl seventh, Anders Gloeersen ninth, Erik Brandsdal 11th, Oeystein Pettersen 14th, Roenning 17th and Simen Oestensen 29th.
Also, if you’re playing any ‘Pick the Podium’ style games with your friends, FasterSkier suggests avoiding Kristin Stoermer Steira. The woman is the best in the world – at finishing fourth. While it probably aggravates to no end, Stoermer Steira seems to almost always win the wooden medal, especially when it matters. Her tally of fourteen fourth place finishes on the World Cup level is heart-wrenching, especially when four of them come at the Olympic Games. Not that fourth is bad, but for a skier with the stats and skill of Stoermer Steira (sixth overall last year, with 892 World Cup points), a podium is not an unreasonable expectation.
The ongoing feud between Marit Bjoergen and Justyna Kowalczyk over the use of asthma medication will – whether you like it or not – be a storyline this season. If things get really heated, expect the two to butt heads on the course, as they have done before.
If you’re expecting Norwegian gossip, FasterSkier could write an entire post full of it, and most of it would be about Northug.
For example: Northug plays poker with Nat Herz. Northug tries to be Andy Newell. Northug doesn’t wear a helmet. Northug high fives the entire finishing stretch in Falun. Northug organizes a summer ski race, survives a dispute with a reindeer herder, and then the weather conspires against him. Northug has a hot girlfriend. Northug and his team mates take their shirts off and wear goofy wigs. You get the idea.
And with World Championships falling in Norway this year, there will be even more pressure on Northug to deliver – especially in the relay. You can bet that if this happens instead of this, Northug’s four Olympic medals from Vancouver won’t be enough to save him from the Norwegian public.
Who You Should Watch
Thomas Northug is a bit of a no-brainer here. At this point, his potential is huge, but so is the pressure being placed on him, especially after besting his older, Crystal-Globe owning brother twice last weekend. He seems to have Petter’s kick, and after a taste of World Cup action last season, Thomas will look for more whenever he can.
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November 18, 2010 at 10:28 pm
I actually think Norway is worse off when it comes to mens distance then what the article makes it out to be, i mean if you look back at the Librec world champ and remove Northug the results were awful.
So its not just a one off bad season i actually think Northugs impressive showing at Librec helped coverup the rather dissapointing preformance of the rest of the team.
Alldo if you comper the womens team from Librec to the olympics there was massive improvment so lets hope the men can show something like that this year.
November 19, 2010 at 10:19 am
I am amazed at the amount of energy that has been focused on Ronny Hafas and his lack of results later on in the season. He is a biathlete so it can’t be expected that he perform outside of a skate race and he had problems with illness in the later part of the season. It was not long ago he was called a “flash in the pan” on FS. Hafas deserves a little more respect, after his win on the XC circuit he went on to have a ski time in the top 3, four times on the Biathlon World Cup before the Christmas break. That is in a field of Bjorndalen, Berger and Andresen.
November 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm
I wrote something a few weeks back about the reputed deficiencies of the Norwegian men’s distance squad:
Might be of interest, if you like numbers.
November 19, 2010 at 2:56 pm
Jordan, I enjoy the site I would hate to see myself plotted though.
To add to the case of Ronny Hafas, this may give us additional insights into his results last year. Very fitting it was released today