VAL DI FIEMME (VG) Several profiles in the ski community believe that the Tour de Ski has been lost.
“Where has the madness gone? Where’s the show? What do we really want with cross-country skiing’s response to the Tour de France? ” asks TV 2s expert Petter Skinstad.
‘The magic is gone. The spectacular has been removed. International cross-country skiing is about to lose the fantastic that was created in 2006 and which lifted the sport “, writes sports commentator Birger Løfaldli in Adressa.
He discusses how the Tour de Ski became a popular innovation in skiing when it came out, and how its status has fallen into disrepair in recent years.
This season’s edition has no races over 10/15 kilometers, and only one of six races is an individual start. This time the tour consists of two stages less than before, due to the fact that the Olympics start already on 4 February.
“The Tour de Ski has become less important. For runners and for the audience. When it has become like this, the sponsors probably think in the same way “, writes Løfaldli.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo would give up in a second if it felt negative considering the Olympics. Frida Karlsson announced early on that she could drop out – something she also did after a hard time penalty.
Klæbo was confronted with the signal he sent with his statement.
– The Tour de Ski hangs high, but there are Olympics every four years and the World Cup every other year. It goes without saying that the tour will never have the same status as the Olympics, said Klæbo in Oberstdorf and added that “Plan A is to be implemented”.
This year, as before, a bunch of runners have broken: 86 women and 111 men started the first stage in Lenzerheide. For the penultimate stage, 52 women and 64 men are on the starting list.
Cannons like Therese Johaug, Hans Christer Holund and Sergej Ustjugov do not go on the tour at all.
Britain’s Andrew Musgrave, outsider for a medal in the Olympics, experiences that the Tour de Ski has greater status than the regular World Cup.
– But whether it is as big as 10-15 years ago, I’m not sure, Musgrave says to VG.
He even stood off the tour last year, something he regrets. Musgrave thinks practitioners need to do more to raise the product.
– We definitely have a responsibility. Had more people said that it was a goal, the media and the public would have become more interested. I think that when you start the tour, you should try to complete and not say “it does not mean much”, says Musgrawe.
– I do not think the tour comes too close to the championship. I do not know exactly what FIS will do to get the biggest stars to finish, he says.
VG confronted Pierre Mignerey, race director of the International Ski Federation (FIS), about whether the Tour de Ski has lost status.
– I think we have had many nice competitions so far and the excitement is alive. But no matter how we plan, not everyone will be happy. That’s how it is for us, says Mignerey.
– What do you think about many maturities along the way, and profiles that say they are considering dropping out?
– We must respect that. The tour is very tough with many stages in a short time and the last stage is exhausting. We are not here to force anyone to leave, Mignerey replies.
The Swedish ski hero Johan Olsson understands that FIS is narrowing down, but he is clear that more long runs are needed.
“My opinion is that the tour has been too monotonous in recent years, for FIS ‘fear of scaring away the biggest stars. No long races or hunt starts and the joint start on the last day reduces the risk that the tour will be too tough and the stars do not risk championship medals due to the participation in the tour “, Olsson writes in Swedish Expressen.