For those of you that were missing the glaring white snow and fir trees, spectators in parkas and woolly hats plus, naturally enough we are to suppose, competitors in luridly patterned skintight outfits, the winter sports season has kicked off. However with popularity on the wane outside a few Scandinavian countries the snow-sliders have a problem; Norwegian dominance.
For those of you that like to bet on sports in Norway at sites like ComeOn! Sportsbook, it’s a bit of a double edged sword. On one hand the Norwegian dominance of alpine sports means one can wager on one’s countrymen and stand quite a fair chance, albeit at rather low odds, to increase one’s bankroll, however the flipside of that is that as non-Norwegians lose interest the sponsors drift away and the slow decline towards marginalization continues it’s spiral of sporting doom.
It’s not that Norwegian dominance doesn’t gain the Nordic nation sponsors or broadcast coverage, of course their winning ways do, however those who it would seem stand very little chance of ever gaining a podium place, let alone the top tier, have a far tricker time of it. TV coverage of the season’s big events sidelined for sports that attract far larger audiences, and with less exposure there’s less reason for sponsors to spend on a competitor or team that is unlikely to fare well anyway.
Fewer sponsors for the non-Norwegians means less money in their pockets, and that has an obvious knock on effect on their training and facilities, which are by no means cheap these days, and that then lessens their overall chances still further as they compete against people who exist under the best of sporting circumstances. This then just adds to Norwegian dominance of alpine sports and so the spiral goes round again. The end point is obvious, but what can be done to avoid it’s inevitability?
The Good, The Rest And The Ugly Truth
If you’re Norwegian gambling laws of sporting popularity aren’t so easily swayed just look at the audience drop in Formula One as Mercedes continues to do to F1 what Norwegian dominance is doing to alpine sports, only alpine sports doesn’t have an inherent risk of crash, explosion and fiery doom to keep it even partially interesting. The difference, of course, is that with the massive amounts of money behind rival teams such as Ferrari hope remains alive someone will challenge them eventually.
In alpine sports there simply isn’t the same fiscal support and whilst F1 needs an entire team of mechanics, management and Muppets behind the wheel, alpine sports are a far more individual endeavor. The individual nature of the sports, even though it’s often disguised with national team events, means that the one-person-against-the-elements aspect is somewhat over arching and Norwegian dominance means outside Norway very few people beyond Ruth Parasol actually care.
Cross-country skiing, if you’d not figured it out yet, is extremely boring, like watching someone on a particularly fiendish exercise machine that has repetitive scenery scrolling behind it, the loss of crucial seconds in an event marked only by a slight slowing in their pace, hardly great viewing. The biathlon attempts to overcome this inherent boredom by making people stop and shoot at things every once in a while, but that really doesn’t give it a mass appeal, and sports involving firearms aren’t popular these days.
Norwegian Dominance Takes All Six Wins
This weekend it was Ruka in Finland that hosted the “Ruka Triple” mini tour that saw the top tier competitors swoosh their way to victory, at least it did if you were Norwegian. Six races, six victories all for them, everyone else a clear ‘also-ran’, somewhat disappointing the home Finnish fans. Norwegians dominance was so manifest that it brought into stark relief just how much of an issue this is going to become, and don’t go gambling news of that changing will come any time soon.
Theresa Johaug sailed home in the 10km pursuit, Swede Stina Nilsson adrift by a whopping 22 seconds with another Norwegian, Flugstad Osberg, grabbing third a whole half minute behind. Johaug now leads Nilsson in the overall standings by 33 points, having picked up 313 for her Norwegian dominance in Ruka, and it’s only just the start December. Meanwhile the situation was no different in the men’s events where Norway once more took the lead and held it across the board.
Martin Sundby grabbed a win in the 10km freestyle and another, perhaps slightly more prestigious, win in the 15km classic pursuit the following day. Even beyond Ruka over in Lake Louise, Canada, another Norwegian, Aksel Lund Svindal, was demonstrating more Norwegian dominance in the Super-G and downhill, winning both. The problem is, that as much as it keeps Norwegian fans happy, it’s repetitive regularity is beginning to bore even those in the half dozen countries that actually cared in the first place.