– It’s almost so ugly out there. It borders on embarrassment when you slip past one foreigner after another. It almost makes you want to say sorry, Johannes Dale-Skjevdal told NRK after the biathlon season opener at Sjusjøen last weekend.
This week is the season opener in cross-country skiing on Beitostølen, and the cross-country skiing community is anxious to see if we will see the same extreme results on skis there too – after a ban has now been introduced against fluorine-containing ski coating.
– Fluorine is involved and evens out differences in skiing, so it may be true that there may be more differences in skiing, says Erik Husby to NRK.
He is responsible for events for cross-country skiing in the Norwegian Ski Association and the country’s first FIS-licensed fluoride tester. It is his responsibility to make sure that no one cheats with fluoride while skiing at Beitostølen.
More than cheating, he therefore fears big results on skiing. But perhaps even more when Norwegian athletes will meet the rest of the world in Ruka next weekend.
– We in the Skiing Association have taken a very leading role in this, and together with the Biathlon Association and the Olympiatoppen have focused on it for a long time. And I don’t know if other nations have been there, he says.
Norway has always had a superb position in ski lubrication. Husby therefore believes it is time to implement measures to ensure that Norway and other resource-rich skin nations do not become too dominant.
He has two very specific proposals. One involves joint lubrication for everyone.
– It is certainly more sustainable. We have now tested a joint lubrication system in the World Cup this winter and we have had a joint lubrication system at the main national race in Norway, and it works, he states.
Fewer pairs of skis
The second proposal is to limit the number of skis a runner can use during a season.
– If one were to start nationally at the Junior Norwegian Cup, then perhaps start with four pairs, two pairs for skating and two for classical. It could be a start. Then we will smooth out some differences, and at the same time keep the costs down a bit, he says.
Not surprisingly, the proposal received a mixed reception.
– In any case, we have to have a little more discussion on that, says Tord Hegdahl, who is the head coach for the Norwegian national team.
He points out an obvious challenge in choosing only a few skis for the whole season.
– If you have made a mistake early in the season, then you have no chance, he says.
Erland Kvisle in the private team Team Norconsult, on the other hand, is very positive about the new rules.
– Yes, I am very much in favor of such a solution where, for example, everyone had gone for the same product. Then you have zero out a factor. But there are still many factors that determine whether a ski will be good, for example structures and manual grooves, but then you have to take away one of the most expensive and perhaps unnecessary things you do with the ski to make them glide well, says he to NRK.
Kvisle took the result at Sjusjøen with him.
– I don’t like that there are such big differences. I think the coolest thing is that you could go on the same equipment as possible. Then it is the best who wins in the end, so I hope you come to a place where you have more even skis. I am in favor of the competition being out on the track, and not in the smørjebua, he says.
That is precisely what Erik Husby wants.
– I am personally a big fan of introducing things that make differences even out, so in the long term I think we have to look that way nationally, but I hope that FIS and the World Cup will also take measures gradually, because it is important, states the expert in fluoride testing.