Petter Northug, his manager, Åre Sørum Langås, and company are taking a hard look at the season ahead after they failed to reach an agreement with the Norwegian ski federation. The federation announced Monday that it would move ahead with planning its 2015/2016 season without Northug after the 13-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist turned down its offer to let him compete with the same “athletic freedom” as last season, according to NewsinEnglish.no.
Instead, the national team is focused on “those skiers who have signed an agreement” with the federation and it will not take “any further initiative towards Petter Northug” or his primary personal sponsor, Coop, a Norwegian grocery store chain.
All of this means the 29 year old won’t ski for Norway at the World Cup or Tour de Ski this season, and without the team’s blessing, he won’t be able to compete at all.
At a board meeting last weekend, Torbjørn Skogstad, head of the federation’s cross-country committee, told the federation that neither Northug nor Coop accepted the terms drawn up in June, which were the same as last year and would have allowed him to keep his corporate sponsorship with Coop until the start of the season in November, according to the federation. After that point, “he then would have to commit himself to the national team and its sponsors throughout the season [until April], with the same rights and obligations as all the other skiers on the team,” according to the federation.
For now, he’s off the national team, and based on previous musings to the media, Northug could be racing marathons exclusively this winter.
His manager, Langås, told NRK that they are waiting to issue an official response to the federation’s decision.
“We register that the ski federation has issued a press release,” Langås said. “We will come with an accounting of this in a few days. Apart from that I have no comment today.”