After Endre Strømsheim was denied a chance at the World Cup in Le Grand-Bornand, France this week, there was backlash. NRK pundit Ola Lunde believes that Tarjei Bø should give way to the man who by then had won three of the four races in the IBU Cup.
And on Thursday, Strømsheim picked up their fourth win in five attempts. By now some of the people NRK had spoken to in Skiskytter-Norge were fed up with the handling of the union withdrawal.
– There was a bit of a farewell atmosphere in the camp, says Knut Tore Berland.
She was head coach for the Fosen Yard Team private team and coached the women’s biathlon national team until the Olympics in Vancouver. He has now asked the union for an explanation.
– Actually there are no criteria. There are “withdrawal criteria” in the documents on the biathlon association’s website, but there are really only a few dates, Berland said and followed up:
– The document has expired. The criteria are lacking, and I believe when you perform like Endre Strømsheim you should have a chance at the World Cup.
– Poorly formulated
He is backed by Håvard Bogetveit, who finished second overall in last year’s IBU Cup, but opted to retire as a 29-year-old before this year’s season.
He himself called himself the world’s best runner outside the national team, and now he is reacting to the association’s selection criteria.
– I thought they were hairy and not concrete. Badly formulated. And there may be a reason for that, because they have a greater chance of exercising discretion, says Bogetveit.
– It’s pretty easy with Strømsheim. It’s easy to compare his achievements with the results in the World Cup. Then I was a little surprised that he wasn’t with Annecy, said the recently retired sportsman.
The Biathlon Federation writes on its website that the criteria for being selected for the World Cup races are international and national results.
– I think it’s strange that they are moving away from the withdrawal criteria, said Bogetveit.
Biathlete Jørgen Brendengen Krogsæter wrote on Twitter that he was appalled by the national team management’s arguments for destroying Strømsheim.
– No opportunity to prioritize from the outside for those of us who want to challenge! It seems that management/coaches at the World Cup were most concerned with strengthening their own profile, wrote Krogsæter, who shares an apartment with Strømsheim.
Strømsheim himself believes that the national team management should further compare the performance in the IBU Cup with the performance in the World Cup.
– This is not done today. When runners like Andrejs Rastorgujevs and Timofei Lapshin were way behind me at Idre, and then both finished in the top five at the World Cup afterward, it’s easy to understand that a good IBU race is also good at the World Cup, believes Strømsheim.
– The eye of the needle is narrow
National team manager Per Arne Botnan understands that the situation is boring for Strømsheim and he really couldn’t have made a better application than he has already done.
– It is not surprising that there were discussions with us regarding the selection for the World Cup. Because we quickly had ten people who could be top 20 and top 15 in the World Cup. The eye of the needle is narrow, said Botnan and added:
– But we have seen that athletes have entered elite teams and World Cups in recent years. With Filip, Sivert and Johannes Dale. After all there will be some changes from time to time, so that should be a motivation.
This season’s rule change gives Norway the opportunity to have as many as six runners at the start of the individual distances in the 2023 WC. The condition is that all athletes must make the top 15 in the World Cup summary.
Nevertheless, Botnan denied that there was an argument for keeping the World Cup team intact until the championship.
– We can’t let that be a factor governing withdrawals. Then it got harder and it wasn’t a draw criterion to use the top 15 as an excuse. We will not do that, assured the national team manager.
But it’s not just the Strømsheim wreck that is causing debate in the biathlon community.
– The worst was what happened at the lower levels, where they made bigger mistakes, said Berland.
– Unpleasant for Biathletes-Norway
Prior to the selection for the IBU Cup in Ridnaun, the biathlon association determined that the Norwegian Cup race in Lygna would determine the selection.
Therefore, many hoped that Eline Grue would get a chance after several podium finishes, but when the draw arrived, Grue’s name was not listed.
NRK is aware that the union has received several written inquiries with questions about withdrawal criteria in recent days following the Strømsheim and Grue wrecks.
– I think it’s unpleasant for the Norwegian Biathlon to experience that the association does not use text in the quotes that they submit themselves. Often in our environment we miss some of the clearer guidelines and clearer selection criteria that are a little more mathematical, says Jon Kristian Svaland, coach of Eline Grue.
Now Gjermund Hol, vice president of the Biathlon Union, is open to looking at withdrawal criteria. He must approve all withdrawals, and is the recipient of inquiries from Berland and Svaland.
– Today’s withdrawal criteria are rather general, international and national results must be taken into account. What they show is how concrete the withdrawal criteria are. We may need to make it more concrete. As they stand, it’s hard to really be specific about which outcome holds up, Hol admits.
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