The Norwegian women’s cross-country team swims in deep water before next year’s World Championships on their home ground in Trondheim.
When the World Cup was competed for the last time at the end of January in Goms, Switzerland, none of the Norwegian women made it from the sprint to the semi-finals. The last time this happened was in February 2022.
Goms in the 15 km free race Margrethe Bergane was 12th as the best Norwegian. For the first time, the Norwegian women fell outside the top 10 on a normal distance this season.
Things have been going smoothly anyway. Heidi Weng is currently the best Norwegian in the World Cup overall points, eighth. In addition to Weng, twenty-somethings can fit into the top 20 in this season’s overall situation Kristin Austgulen’s Fosnaes (15th) and Margrethe Bergane (16th).
Besides Weng, only a sprinter has been seen on the podium Kristine Stavaas Skistad.
Last season Tiril Udnes Weng won the women’s overall race of the World Cup and nine Norwegian women reached the podium in the World Cup.
Weng fell ill with the corona virus in mid-November and has struggled with persistent symptoms. He opened his season on January 19 at Oberhof. He has currently been 14th in the individual race this season.
Björgen and Johaug for help?
In Nettavisen magazine the team’s performance was described as historically poor and it was suggested that the superstars of the 2010s Marit Björgen and Therese Johaug would be brought in to advise the crisis team.
Both have expressed his interest in helping the team. However, four-time Olympic winner and 14-time world champion Johaug told NRK on Tuesday that he has not been asked for advice about the national team.
– I’m perhaps a little surprised that they don’t use the know-how of previously successful athletes in the team, Johaug said.
Johaug also marveled at the omission of Björgen, who has won the most medals ever at the Winter Olympics (15).
– He is a historic Olympic athlete and there is a reason for that. He was a fierce skier with plenty of experience that he could use to help the national team, Johaug said.
Nettavisen’s ski commentator Torbjörn Nordvallin it is a mistake that the Norwegian Ski Federation has not contacted Björgen.
– Marit has shown over the years that he wants to help and share his unique knowledge. It’s a little shocking that the Federation hasn’t requested his services, Nordvall said.
NRK’s skiing expert Torgeir Björn estimates that the current team lacks self-confidence, which Johaug and Björgen could help create.
Coach of the women’s national team Stig Rune Kveen says he is open to Björgen’s tips. Acting as head coach Sjur Ole Svarstad has previously coached Björgen and Johaug in the national team.
– So we know how they trained back then, but it is of course always interesting to hear experiences directly from athletes, such as Björgen, Kveen was spinning.
The Swedish women have dominated the competitions of the season, especially on the sprint distances. Björgen and Johaug’s rival Charlotte Kalla has worked as an assistant coach of the Swedish junior national team at training camps since his career ended in 2022.
– They (Björgen and Johaug) have a lot of silent information that would be worth its weight in gold. Norway has a lot of potential. I hope they find their confidence and get back on top, Kalla told SVT.
The return of the superstars?
Johaug, who ended his career in 2022, may still be seen competing at the World Championships in Trondheim.
– Have to look. I haven’t decided yet if I will compete in the future. Now I enjoy life as a mother. I admit that I do train a little, a skier who had a baby in May told in September.
Nettavisen’s according to the information Johaug trains at least twice a day sometimes.
On the men’s side, Norway has been superior as usual. However, the old name came up there last weekend as well.
Petter Northug, 38, sprung a surprise on Sunday by finishing second in the men’s 20 km traditional cross-country intermediate start race at the Norwegian Ski Cup. On Saturday, Northug finished 35th in the 10 kilometer free race
Northug ended his World Cup career in 2017 and in recent years has mostly skied long marathon races, but the speed seems to be sufficient in shorter races as well.
The national team coach was excited by the two-time Olympic champion’s moves By Eirik Myhr Nossum to welcome Northug to fight for a place in the national team.
– I am very impressed. He is clearly an alternative for Holmenkollen’s 50 kilometers and for next year’s World Championships, Nossum told VG.