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High School

Cooperation Finally Prevails in Nordic World

by Brian Olsen
September 6, 2001

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)
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 officially created.

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," said Årjes.

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.]

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