With a British cross-country skier making the FIS podium twice in a fortnight, and the Alps beyond reach for most of us this season, is it time to turn to Nordic skiing?
Cross-country skiing has always been hugely popular in Scandinavia, where almost everyone practises the national sport of ‘langlauf’. It’s so important, in fact, that Norway, Sweden and Finland recently pulled their champion cross-country ski teams from international competition to protect athletes’ health during the pandemic. Professional skiers enjoy massive aerobic capacity, so the risk of respiratory damage to x-country mega-stars like Therese Johaug and Johannes Haesflot Klaebo is simply not worth taking, the Scandi pros have decided.
Their absence has left the competition wide open to athletes from countries like the UK, which don’t normally stand much of a chance against the all-conquering Nordic nations (and Russia). In the last event before the self-imposed travel ban was imposed (Ruka, 27-29 November), for example, Norway’s men took 12 of 16 possible medals. The remaining four went to Russia.
Medal success for Team GB Snowsports
As a result, Team GB Snowsport’s Andrew Young has stepped up to the plate and currently sits in fourth place overall and for sprint in the FIS rankings. His team mate Andrew Musgrave is third in the distance rankings.
Young took sprint silver on the Dresden city centre course last weekend – the best ever World Cup result for a British cross-country skier. He won bronze in Davos seven days earlier.
Brilliant results for Team GB Snowsports, who are encouraging young skiers to get in touch if they’d like to join the crew, with an eye on the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Milan.
The current absence of two of the world’s top three cross-country skiing teams in international competition is doing wonders for the profile of the sport in places like the US whose athletes are also podium-ing. If you can’t do it – watch it.
Where to watch it
We are big fans of Nordic skiing here at WhoSki.com, and thoroughly recommend checking out the races you can find on YouTube, Eurosport and the FIS site even if it’s not possible right now to get out on the mountain.