Norway can bring a maximum of 18 athletes to the cross-country competitions at the 2011 World Championships. Sweden can enter up to 24.
The reason for the different number of berths is as follows: A nation can bring no more than 32 athletes to a championship, but they have to be spread out over the various disciplines: jumping, cross-country and Nordic combined. Norway has qualified athletes in all disciplines. Sweden, for instance, does not have any Nordic combined or jumpers. Accordingly, Sweden can fill up the team with more cross-country skiers and bring more specialists, such as sprint racers and long-distance skiers. According to Norwegian newspaper VG, Norway will be forced to use a sprint racer for the 50K.
“I think it’s unfair that a nation like Sweden should be essentially rewarded because they are less well-rounded and can’t field a team to Nordic combined or jumping. And if they get to bring more cross-country skiers because of that, I think it’s just wrong,” said Jann Post, a cross-country commentator with the Norwegian television station NRK.
The Norwegian Ski Association has spread out their qualified athletes over all the disciplines, leaving the Norwegians with 18 cross-country skiers, nine jumpers (four of them female) and five nordic combined racers.
The Norwegian National team director Åge Skinstad argues that introducing a cap for how many athletes a nation could bring to each discipline would be more fair. Skinstad said to VG Nett that it will be a challenge for Norway to field full teams in the distance events, especially because you have up to five racers for both the sprint and the 50K (including free berths for the World Cup overall leader Petter Northug and sprint leader Ola Vigen Hattestad).
The president of the Norwegian Ski Association Sverre Seeberg said to VG Nett that he will put together a proposal to the International Ski Federation (FIS) as soon as possible, changing the rules to eliminate this unfair loophole. Seeberg is the vice president of the FIS Council.
“It’s unfair the way the rules are now. It shouldn’t be a disadvantage to field athletes in all the disciplines,” Seeberg said.
Seeberg will propose either to reduce the number of racers a nation can field in each discipline, or increase the total number of athletes can bring. Today, the maximum number of cross-country skiers a country can bring is 24.
From Langd.se, February 3, 2011. By Kjell Erik Kristiansen, 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.