Asks the cross-country tops to hit the brakes

Brå Savjalov, Cross-Country skiingIconic image from when Oddvar Brå looses his ski pole and crosses the line together with Russian skier Savjalov. Photo: Nrk

Brå asks the cross-country tops to apply the brakes

Oddvar Brå believes the steps taken to renew cross-country sports have reached a limit. He asks Vegard Ulvang and the other FIS peaks to apply the brakes.


The cross-country committee of the International Skiing Federation (FIS) is constantly working to look at possible changes and steps that can make international cross-country skiing more attractive, not in the least for television viewers.

In recent years several short distance events and tour concepts have added to the calendar. Traditional classic cross-country skiing has at the same time been under pressure.

Skicross elements in the sprint distances are among the features that are discussed. Oddvar Brå hopes that Ulvang & company put their feet on the brake pedal.

– I hope FIS with Ulvang in the lead can tighten this and stop now. I do not think we should push any further. It is important to take care of what was the original cross-country sport, and we have done so until now, but it can not go any further than this, says the Norwegian cross-country legend to NTB.

No more show

Earlier this week, an autobiography of the ski legend’s life was launched. It is penned by Thor Gotaas. In connection with that, the 67-years-old view of the developments in international cross-country skiing was a natural theme.

Obviously, the event calendar increasingly seems to favour those with explosive muscle fibres in their body.

– Sprinters now get relatively more advantages, as is the case with Johannes (Høsflot Klæbo). Disregarding one single event, he was not fast over distances lasting longer than 25 minutes last winter. He won the World Cup overall despite that, says the ski legend.

He is adamant that «there must be no more show», but at the same time, he underlines that he understands that Ulvang and his cronies are fighting a fierce battle for the favour of the viewers.

Critical voices

The Swedish ski legend, Thomas Wassberg, has also expressed his critical views of introducing skicross elements into regular cross-country skiing.

Norwegian top skier, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, also said after last season’s World Cup closing event in Falun, Sweden, that he believes that the International Ski Federation (FIS) is on the wrong track when they add to what he thinks is too many «action-packed» competitions. The statement came after the veteran’s fall in a chaotic joint start over 15 kilometres in Falun.

– It’s hard to tell if the audience likes it, or whether they should have switched channels to watch skicross instead. There is a battle raging between athletes and FIS, where FIS wishes to add features to our sport. I think that many of us think that it is not a good thing and that we do not want to continue in that direction. Such joint starts have grown in number in recent years, and it is not something that we practitioners applaud, Sundby told NTB on that occasion.

The upcoming World Championship season in cross-country skiing kicks off for the Norwegian participants with the traditional opening races at Beitostølen in the middle of next month.


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today