Both Norway and Sweden announced their National Team picks for the 2015/2016 season Friday. The respective teams of the two rivals will see few changes in the upcoming year as both hope to either maintain or improve their team successes.
The Norwegians have nominated the majority of the 2014/2015 team, which won the year’s Nation’s Cup with 17,225 points – 11,364 points over the Russian Federation in second place. Headlining the women’s team is Marit Bjørgen who won her fourth overall World Cup title this year. The 35-year-old recently announced that she would continue to race the World Cup circuit, despite some uncertainty immediately after the season’s end.
“I have used the spring to think a little, and I am now sure that I’m a hundred percent ready to put down the work needed to continue my career,” she told Norwegian broadcaster NRK, according to a translation.
Missing from the women’s team roster are Celine Brun-Lie and Kristen Størmer Steira who both announced their retirements in recent weeks. Replacing the two will be Kari Vikagen Gjeitnes and Ragnhild Haga. Haga finished fifth overall in the World Cup standings and fourth overall in the 2015 Tour de Ski.
The Norwegian men will be led by Martin Sundby, who won his second-straight overall World Cup title in 2014/2015. Sundby had a strong start to the season but was unable to demonstrate his top form at the 2015 World Championships in Falun due to illness.
Norwegian superstar Petter Northug was notably left off the list due to his contract with the grocery store chain Coop and its team. While there is little information as to negotiations between Northug and the Norwegian National Team, Northug’s manager, Are Sørum Langås, recently said that the four-time 2015 World Championships gold medalist had a plan for the season that would satisfy his needs.
The men’s sprint team remains identical to the 2014/2015 season. Hans Christer Holunder and Niklas Dyrhaug are the only additions to the all around team.
According to Head Coach Vidar Løfshus, selection for the team began during the 2015 World Championships and that they aimed to have the team feature roughly 25 skiers. Friday’s announcement names 24 skiers to the team.
“The challenge has been to put together the best training groups in the men. We have spent time discussing and thinking to managed and achieve the best ability. It is about finding out that training program tailored to each athlete best,” Løfshus explained to FIS.
Norwegian National Team:
Marit Bjørgen, Rognes IL
Maiken Caspersen Falla, Gjerdrum IL
Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Henning Skilag
Ragnhild Haga, Åsen IL
Martine Ek Hagen, IL i BUL
Kathrine Rolsted Harsem, IL Varden
Astrid UhrenholdtJacobsen, IL Heming
Therese Johaug, Nansen IL
Heidi Weng, IL i BUL
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, Gjøvik Skiklubb
Niklas Dyrhaug, Tydal IL
Pål Golberg, Gol IL
Hans Christer Holund, Lyn Ski
Chris Jespersen, IL Korlevoll-Odda
Sjur Røthe, Voss IL
Martin Johnsrud Sundby, Røa IL
Simen Andreas Sveen, Ring IL
Didrik Tønseth, Byåsen IL
Eirik Brandsdal, Kjelsås IL
Sondre Turvoll Fossli, Hokksund IL
Anders Gløersen, Rustad Il
Ola Vigen Hattestad, Ørje IL
Finn Hågen Krogh, Tverrelvdalen IL
Tomas Northug, Strindheim IL
The Swedish National team also announced its National Team Friday. While the team did not have the success it aimed for in the 2014/2015 season it achieved third overall in the Nation’s Cup standings behind Norway and Russia.
Four-time 2015 World Championships medalist Charlotte Kalla will return as the team’s most anticipated skier. Sprinting star Stina Nilsson will also remain in the team’s rank to much fanfare.
Johan Olsson, Daniel Richardson and Lars Nelson will not return to the National Team in the 2015/2016 season. Olsson won the 15 k freestyle and earned two other podiums at the 2015 World Championships with a second in the 4 x 10 k relay and third in the 50 k classic.
According to Swedish National Team Head Coach Rikard Grip, his women are especially strong this year. He explained that the coaching staff aimed to create a team centered around maintaining the team’s status as one of the world’s best.
“We want to improve the quality of sprint training sessions and create opportunities for more and tougher challenges in racing similar situations, man to man and woman against woman,” Grip said to FIS.
Swedish National Team
Charlotte Kalla, Piteå Elit
Anna Haag, IFK Mora SK
Ida Ingemarsdotter, Åsarna IK
Emma Wikén, Åsarna IK
Maria Rydqvist, Älvdalens IF
Stina Nilsson, IFK Mora SK
Sofia Bleckur, IFK Mora SK
Magdalena Pajala (sprint), Piteå Elit
Jennie Öberg (sprint), Piteå Elit
Hanna Falk (sprint), Ulricehamns IF
Calle Halfvarsson, Falun-Borlänge SK
Martin Johansson, IFK Mora SK
Anders Svanebo, Stockviks SF
Marcus Hellner, Gellivare Skidallians
Simon Andersson, Falun-Borlänge SK
Emil Jönsson (sprint), IFK Mora SK
Teodor Peterson (sprint), IFK Umeå
Johan Edin (sprint), IFK Mora SK
Hanna Erikson, Åsarna IK
Anna Dyvik, Falun-Borlänge SK
Sofia Henriksson, Piteå Elit
Jonna Sundling, IFK Umeå
Evelina Settlin, Hudiksvalls IF
Linn Sömskar (sprint), IFK Umeå
Maja Dahlqvist (sprint), Falun-Borlänge SK
Maria Nordström (sprint), Ulricehamns IF
Jens Burman, Åsarna IK
Marcus Ruus, Åsarna IK
Simon Lagesson, Åsarna IK
Axel Ekström, Garphyttans IF
Oscar Svensson, Falun-Borlänge SK
Carl Quicklund (sprint), Östersunds SK
Jesper Modin (sprint), Piteå Elit
Simon Persson (sprint), IFK Umeå
Anton Lindblad, Sollefteå Skidor (sprint)
Erik Silfver (sprint), IFK Umeå
Gustav Nordström (sprint), Borås SK