NORDIC FIS World Nordic Ski Championships 2011 Oslo
and then blowing by them on the last half a kilometer — smart,
one might say, for winning is the goal. Ah yes, but therein lies
Case in point: at the end of the men’s relay on March 4, Northug
snowplowed across the finish line, a slap in the face to Sweden’s
stoic Marcus Hellner, who finished just behind him. Swedish TV
commentator Jonas Karlsson yelled out live on the air, “Han har
en gris” (“he is a pig”), referring to Northug. One Norwegian journalist simply referred to Northug as a “showman.” It made for
compelling sports television.
Even for many in Norway, the jury is still out on Northug. For
he is not in the mold of past Norwegian champions who were
both humble and modest and were simply less provocative. No
doubt, Northug brings big PR to the sport, and that’s good, as
the press hangs on his every word — he is front-page news
everyday. He talks trash, not NBA-type trash, but he shares his
views both rawly and openly. He likes to win, and is one of the
most intriguing nordic skiers of our time.
Beyond Northug, one of the truly amazing stories of men’s cross
country at World Champs was the Canadian sprint relay gold.
The duo of Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw put on a display of
talent that schooled everyone. They make a powerful pair and
help make a good team better.
The U.S. Ski Team went into World Champs with slightly understated hopes, perhaps with the exception of Alaska’s Kikkan
Randall. After winning a pair of back-to-back World Cups this
season, Randall was considered by the media in Norway to be
a real threat to Marit the Magnificent’s supremacy. But that battle
was never to be. On Feb. 24, Randall slipped and lost time in the
quarterfinal sprint round against Swede Ida Ingemarsdotter.
Randall — who is, like Bjoergen, the personification of sportsmanship — shrugged and said, “That’s racing.” Her graciousness was impactful.
With Randall ending in 26th, Sadie Bjornsen finished 24th and
Jessie Diggins was 25th. In the men’s sprints, Andy Newell was
the top American taking 10th, with Simi Hamilton leading other
Americans in 25th.
Petter the Great? Showboating Norwegian Petter Northug
gave TV commentators plenty to talk about.
SkiRacing.com MARCH 17, 2011 | 35