Because after 15 individual races at the World Cup, one thing is pretty clear on the men’s side of international cross-country skiing: Norway is devouring trophies.
68 percent of the prize money goes to Norwegian athletes.
The Tour de Ski is a money fest for the highly ranked Norwegian athletes in summary – and eight out of the ten best-paid athletes this season have been Norwegians. At the top is Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, who has brought in NOK 2 million in the 2022/23 season.
Norway has received NOK 6.8 million at today’s rates. The closest country is Italy with NOK 940,000, about NOK 130,000 more than Sweden.
Now some believe that Norwegian dominance has become a problem. Germany’s cross-country manager, Peter Schlickenrieder, believes it is time to limit Norway’s access to the World Cup:
– As I’ve said several times: We have to do like in the World Cup where the best four from each country go, as well as maybe the world champion and the overall World Cup winner. That’s enough. “Then we had good competition,” Schlickenrieder told NRK after the last race of the Tour de Ski.
– I am glad that the Norwegians have the best skiers in the world. It makes no difference whether it is Norwegian or Russian. It makes no sense that they have the best twelve runners at the start. People lose interest when the first twelve come from the same country.
Had the backing of the Italian team
The German was referring to the quota in the national race where the Norwegian was able to field twelve runners at the start. Ten athletes start the Tour de Ski. Six people finished in the top ten.
Norwegian sprint coach Arild Monsen shook his head at the suggestion. He needed a few seconds to think before answering:
– I have one answer: I’m really looking forward to what Peter Schlickenrieder will do next. Beyond that, I have no comment.
But even if Schlickenrieder is not heard from the north, his compatriot and Italy coach Markus Cramer partly agrees with him:
– They are too strong and too many Norwegians to start with. The FIS should think about quotas for the World Cup, he said.
– First we have to “push” to help smaller countries more, then we can think about quotas, smiles Cramer, who currently coaches the country that did the second best in the World Cup after Norway.
Germany believes dominance is contributing to product weakness in Central Europe, though the situation is different in Italy now. Pellegrino and shooting star Simone Mocellini have shown it is possible to mingle at the top.
In 17 races, Norway has captured 36 of the 51 podiums. Italy has nine, France three, Sweden two, Great Britain one.
Last season, Norway was also excellent, but with Russia at the start, the difference was much smaller.
Then Norway ran away with 46 percent of the prize pot. Russia takes 22 percent. The rest of the world 32 percent.
– We certainly missed the second best country. That’s also part of the reason. I think for all sports it’s stupid that we don’t have Russians. I hope the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will do something soon. Because again, what can a player do? They are not responsible for the war, said Cramer, who coached Russia between 2010 and 2022.
Klæbo: – Nice to be Italian
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo is the highest earner of the season so far. The Norwegian won six of the seven stages and the Tour de Ski in all, in addition to four World Cup wins earlier in the season. He suggested that the debate should not be disputed.
– If you go cross-country skiing, you can say so. There have been other weekends, like at Beitostølen where there were classic sprints where not even a Norwegian had finished on the podium, Klæbo told NRK.
He thought it was right and made sense that it was a theme, but felt that it appeared every weekend Norwegian skiers did well:
– There’s a discussion every time we walk fast, so it’s not mentioned once when we don’t walk. I also think in the days of no domination it’s good to be Italian or French too. Everyone who stands at the start has the goal of doing their best, says Klæbo.
FIS: It was decided together with the athletes
FIS race director Michal Lamplot is concerned that there is an agreement that everyone wants as many countries as possible to be competitive.
– At the same time, we cannot blame Norway for being so good or getting such good results. That’s how it is. They did a great job, said FIS race director Michal Lamplot, when NRK asked about Norway’s dominance.
He explained that the prize pool had been gradually increased over the last few years. They’ve made sure that more trickles down the best, but you still don’t get rich by being in the middle tier of the results list.
– The distribution was decided with the athletes and representatives of athletes who have helped us develop proposals. That process is complete, so nothing will change. Everyone agrees that athletes should earn as much as possible, but the organizers pay this money. So we can’t just say we want to double the prize money, even if we wanted to, said Lamplot.
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