Cooperation Finally Prevails in Nordic World
by Brian Olsen
September 6, 2001
Holmenkollen (Oslo, Norway) -- The future of cross country skiing
looks much brighter following the meeting of four of the most
influential men in nordic skiing. The leaders of the ski federations
from Norway, Sweden, and Finland, plus the organizer of the
Lahti venue came together on the outskirts of Oslo yesterday
to add the finishing touches to an idea that just might save
the sport of cross country skiing from oblivion. It has been
many years since such an idea was last discussed, but all of
that time is behind, for the Nordic Tournament has now been
UNITY AT HOLMENKOLLEN: The nordic ski leaders
met at Holmenkollen yesterday.
From the left: Øistein Andresen (general secretary of
the Norwegian Ski Association), Mats Årjes (general
secretary of the Swedish Ski Association), Paavo M.
Petäjä (president of the Finnish Ski Association) and
Laila Lepisto (director of the Lahti venue).
Photo: Magnar Kirknes (VG)
With the venue of Holmenkollen as their backdrop, the four
men contemplated the details of the newly formed nordic cup,
including the venues of Lahti, Trondheim, Falun, and Holmenkollen.
"The idea is to gather the World Cup disciplines [nordic combined,
ski jumping, and cross country skiing] under one mass umbrella,"
stated FIS marketing director Christian Knauth. "The model
comes from the highly successful ski jumping tournament held
in Germany and Austria every year. The competitions will now
count for more than just the World Cup; the different races
will also count in a discipline-specific tour of sorts."
This coming season, the Nordic Tournament will tally the
standings of the best of five competitions in cross country
skiing (both skate and classic) to form a cross country-specific
tour, alike to the Biathlon Trophy of IBU World Cup biathlon.
For nordic combined and ski jumping, four races will be scored.
The winner in cross country will receive a total prize purse
of approximately $6,600. This sum is in addition to the prize
money given to the overall World Cup leader. The total prize
package for ski jumping amounts to around $8,800.
The financial backing of this endeavor has already been
established. Sponsor Service has purchased the marketing rights
to all of the nordic venues. The firm is in the process of
putting the economic pieces of the tournament together - attracting
sponsors, athletes, and spectators.
"This gives all of the directors a sense of solid footing.
The income of the tournament is already becoming larger,"
said Øistein Andresen, general secretary of the Norwegian
Ski Association, one of the four directors and visionaries
of the tournament. Yesterday, Andresen smiled together with
his Swedish counterpart Mats Årjes. Without the teamwork of
the two men the tournament would have fallen apart. However,
just last winter the two were at two ends of a disagreement
over Norway's bid for the alpine World Championships in 2007
- a bid race in which Åre, Sweden, was considered the frontrunner.
Supposedly, Norway has or will withdraw its proposal.
"This teamwork is definitely good, especially for Falun
- to be in such a strong group of venues, like Lahti and Holmenkollen,"
This agreement also means a lot for the Finns as well. Not
just economically, but socially. With last year's doping scandal
still dominating the public's thought of ski-sport, the Finnish
skiing has had a hard time being accepted back into society.
This tournament might do the trick, though: bringing true
nordic sport back into the limelight.
"This is a very important deal for Finnish skiing. It has
not been easy to find money after the incidents of the winter.
But we have had a lot of help from Sponsor Service. Now, we
have found it. It is easily apparent that the future for us
is looking much brighter these days," smiled Finnish Ski Association
president Paavo M. Petäjä.
[The author would like to note that a majority of the
article's quotations are translated from the VG article "Slår
Seg Sammen," which appeared on 05 September 2001. -- Ed.]