BEIJING / ZANGJIAKOU / OSLO (VG) The conflict between the national team jumpers and Espen Graff is still inflamed. They wanted the communications manager of the Norwegian Ski Association to be removed as their media manager during the Olympics.
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The Ski Association’s communications manager Espen Graff has for a number of years been responsible for the media for the jumpers during major championships. Monday announced TV 2 that it not becomes the case during the Olympics in China.
On Tuesday, both Graff and Norway’s leading ski jumpers landed in Beijing. At the airport, national team coach Alexander Stöckl says that his athletes have made it clear that they do not want Graff as their media leader after his role in the “Bråthen case”.
– Neither I nor Clas Brede (Bråthen) took the initiative. It was the practitioners who did not want Graff. We now have a press attaché named Sofie (Torlei Olsen). We think that will be good. She is eager, says Stöckl to VG at Beijing Capital Airport.
At the same time, Espen Graff denies to VG that the jumpers have dismissed him as responsible for their media activities during the Olympics. The former NRK presenter will instead have the main responsibility for the alpinists. They are based in Yanqing, which is several hours ‘drive from the jumpers’ Olympic village in Zhangjiakou.
– I informed the management of the Olympic Summit a while back that it was not relevant to work with jumping during the Olympics. The main reason is that it is not possible to be responsible for both this time. This is due to a demanding infrastructure and the great international interest in alpine skiing, Graff says to VG, while he is on his way to Yanqing where he will guide profiles such as Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Kjetil Jansrud through various press meetings and interviews.
VG knows that in the jumping community there has been a distrust of Graff, who they experience has been a counterpart in the much talked about conflict around Clas Brede Bråthen’s working conditions in the Ski Association.
– After a lot of noise in recent months, it is also wise to spend some time figuring out how the collaboration will be in the future. That the practitioners also wanted another solution is completely unproblematic. I look forward to working with the world’s best alpinists, Graff states.
Steinar Bjerkmann, who worked in Graff’s department, was previously the jumpers’ media manager. After the Bråthen case, he is no longer involved with the national team. Now it is Bråthen himself who is listed as the jumpers’ media manager The Ski Association’s pages.
– Hopp also no longer wants contributions from the communication department in the Ski Association in other areas, and it is of course entirely up to them. It gives us more capacity to follow up on our other branches with which we work excellently, says the Ski Association’s communications manager.
Olympiatoppen informs VG that they were informed about the standpoint of both the jumping camp and Graff ahead of the Olympics. Finally, the decision was made by Halvor Lea (leader of the press attaché team and the media operation in the Olympics) and winter sports manager Helge Bartnes.
– There has been an open and orderly dialogue with both Graff and the jump management. We have let those involved assess the situation themselves, and then the Olympic Summit has decided on the basis of their input. Before the decision was made, we worked in parallel with an alternative solution, both due to the large distances and the situation in jumping and the Norwegian Ski Association. Based on the input we received, we decided that Sofie Torlei Olsen will follow up jumps in the Olympics. It is a solution we are very happy with, says Lea to VG.
The jumpers’ national team manager was for a long time not wanted by the Ski Association. The reason was that they thought Bråthen had an unacceptable behavior that did not fit into Norwegian working life.
Lawyers were hired on both sides, and a public dispute ended with Bråthen signing a contract that made him national team manager – a new position. At the same time, Ståle Villumstad has become acting sports director with responsibility for the administration. The case cost the Norwegian Ski Association almost three million Norwegian kroner.
The first medal practice for the men is February 5 in the normal hill. The women fight for precious metal on the same hill the day before.