Will Norwegian See Off Competition In Falun?

Cross country skiing

Falun is going to see some of the best in the world face off against each other in one of the toughest events on the planet and you can bet on it at ComeOn! Sportsbook

Not living in Norway cross country skiing has always struck me as being another of those sports based on skills or practices that should only really be used in emergency situations. Swimming is much the same. If the plane has crashed or you’ve fallen in the river after a particularly good liquid lunch, then yes, swim for all you’re worth, the situation calls for it, but to struggle through the water under your own power by choice, like a dog chasing a stick into the village pond, seems to completely ignore the prizes of progress that come in the shape of boats, submarines and jet-skis.

Three Of The Best To Meet in Falun
• Nordic world ski championships 2015 are in Sweden
• Norwegian Northug looks the one to beat
• Can Cologna or Poltoranin steal his thunder?

Cross country skiing suffers from the same problem. Certainly if one is trapped in inclement snowy conditions facing a lack of food, water and automatic rescue, with death a real possibility, one of your number being able to quickly traverse the fifty kilometers between your location and civilization to fetch help would be invaluable, but exactly how often have you found yourself in that situation? Unfortunately the origins of cross country skiing are not those of emergency but the military.

Apparently something having been used as a method for killing each other once upon a time is all the excuse people need to retain the practice as a “sport”. Archery, the javelin, fencing and, indeed, cross country skiing, which was once essential for getting troops from A to B via S for snow so they could leave it splattered in someone else’s blood, are all remnants of warfare. Of course unlike the bow wielders, stick chuckers and foil wagglers, cross country skiers are perhaps gambling news of it still being used by some specialized military units makes them look a tad less silly.

It’s not something I’d put a wager on myself, but thankfully cross country skiing isn’t a fashion parade, and really doesn’t have the military overtones of its more violent cousin the Biathlon. It is a test of endurance, both physically and mentally, entirely as challenging to the human body as exhausting summer based athletics events like the 10,000m, the marathon or a camping holiday with your family with the top competitors are amongst some of the fittest humans on the planet.

The Bad Boy Of Cross Country Skiing

The Norwegian Petter Northug is amongst this physical elite and is a major force in the sport with a record number of Olympic and World championship medals. His sixteen Olympic medals include the two golds he picked up in Vancouver back in 2010, and in the World Championships he’s nabbed 11 golds, 4 silvers and a solitary bronze, putting him well above the rest of the field. This clear superiority has on occasion gotten him into a little hot water with the rest of the sport.

Petter Northug skiing champion

It is one thing to win, it is another thing to win in a manner that makes everyone else look foolish. In 2011 at the World Championships in Oslo he thought it might be amusing, what with being so staggeringly far ahead of his competitors in the 4x10km relay event, to finish in a showy manner. Thus it was that our Norwegian chum crossed the line in first place sideways in what was then deemed, by those guardians of good taste and decency the media, to have been an act of disrespect to the sport and his rivals.

Not that he needs skis on his feet to get in trouble. In 2014 he managed to drink, drive, have an accident that got someone’s collarbone broken and then flee the scene only to be caught by the police in the safely unthinkable hiding place of his own home. Sentenced to 50 days in jail, and an irrevocable loss of his driving license, for his stupidity, he’s widely regarded as the “bad boy” of cross country skiing, an amusing concept that gets funnier and funnier the more you think about it.

Adding to this image, as famed in the Nordic nations as any NFL star in the US, is his well known love of poker. Norwegian gambling laws prohibit the game in any meaningful incarnation and so his like of the game is unfortunately limited to play online or abroad. Of course that’s not too much of an obstacle if you’re an international star athlete and in 2010 he took part in the World Series of Poker main event coming a distinctly un-medal-winning 653rd. This February, however, he’ll be hoping to come a lot higher up the field.

Winning Will Be Snow Joke

Come the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, this year being held in the picturesque Falun, Sweden, Petter will be taking part in the classic event of the sport, the 50km Mass Start with every intention of grabbing gold. But the Norwegian won’t be alone (yes, yes the name “mass start” gives that away, very well spotted, aren’t you clever? Go to the top of the class………and jump off) with some of the very best in the world lining up alongside him ready to snatch away victory at the smallest opportunity.

Nordic World Ski Championship

Not least amongst these is Alexey Poltoranin the younger man from Kazakhstan whose bitty performances started to come together in the last few years and indeed his 2012/13 world cup season saw him finish a very respspectable fourth. His bronze medals from Val Di Flemme two years ago have left him hungry for bigger things and he’ll be desperate to pull one over on Northug who has so often beaten him, and quite frankly just about everyone else, to the finish.

There will also be the threat of Dario Cologna the Swiss skier who has three overall world cup victories to his name along with three Olympic golds, one from Vancouver, two from Sochi, and a World Championship gold as well. He will want to leverage the momentum from his success at the Winter Olympics and has a long standing rivalry with Northug that should see it being a hard fought battle between all three of these top tier competitors.

Those of you that like internet betting in Norway can, of course, back Petter to see of these pretenders to his throne, but the bookies are a little more hesitant about which way this could go on the day. ComeOn! Sportsbook has all three down at 3.30 with the next nearest competitor being Martin Sundby Johnsrud, another Norwegian nearly twice as far out at 7.75 and leaves Johan Olsson, who’ll be racing in front of his home crowd, way back on 11.00. Of course with the odds so close it’s a good bet whomever you choose to back you’ll have a great time watching what transpires in Falun this year.

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