Among those who react is Ola Kvisle. He is the coach of the Norconsult team and is responsible for hardworking Silje Øyre Slind and comet Elena Rise Johnsen.
Kvisle starts by saying it’s great that Østberg is back on track and thinks she’ll be going fast already when the World Cup opens last weekend in November.
Having said that, I think it is fundamentally wrong for an athlete to be sent directly to Ruka without having to qualify at Beitostølen, after such a long period of absence. This sends a signal that the management of the Norwegian Ski Association is doing exactly what it wants and showing little or no respect for second-best and the breadth of Norwegian cross-country skiing, Kvisle told NRK.
– An alliance for the elite
It has been almost 20 months since Østberg last ran a race. Since then, she has battled two stress fractures due to poor nutritional status and, at the same time, she has not met all the requirements of the Norwegian Ski Association’s health certificate.
On Monday last week, however, Østberg was allowed to cross-country ski. But she will have a smooth start to the season and will not have to compete at the national cross-country opener in Beitostølen next weekend to qualify for the World Cup races.
– In my opinion, this is another example of the Ski Association being an association for the elite, and especially just the elite, Kvisle says and continues:
– On the one hand, it’s great that the Ski Association wants to take care of its own athletes, but it doesn’t seem that they think about the consequences this has for the rest of Norwegian cross-country skiing, short and short term. long term. In any case, I wish Ingvild a lot of luck for the start of the season.
– Can ask questions
NRK expert Fredrik Aukland is also skeptical of the election.
– Historically, Ingvild has results that undoubtedly qualify her to go to the World Cup. But it is questionable that she can go to a World Cup race without having skied for a very, very long time and the fact that she does not go to a ski race like in Beitostølen at the ‘advance. It’s very rare to see one, says Aukland.
– A cynical national team coach
National team coach Ole Morten Iversen responds ‘not really’ to NRK’s question if he had any doubts about giving Østberg the chance to compete in the World Cup without her running for very, long time.
– But now I’m a cynical national team coach, thinking about the Olympics and medal opportunities, he says.
He admits that he had in principle been taken into consideration in most of the other cases. But in Østberg’s situation, he, cross-country manager Espen Bjervig and national team doctor Øystein Andersen were one hundred percent in agreement that she should start the season cautiously.
– We agree that she will participate in three ski races before Christmas. It’s 10 kilometers classic in Ruka, it’s 15 kilometers with a change of ski in Lillehammer and it’s 10 kilometers freestyle in Davos, says Iversen.
– Must be cynical and brutal
The first two mentions of Iversen here are pure Olympic qualifying runs, while the last in Davos, Switzerland is at relevant Olympic height.
– In this picture, she doesn’t have to qualify. It’s about making the best possible arrangements to join an Olympic team. We think Ingvild deserves it.
– I don’t have a bad conscience about that. It is permissible to be skeptical. She takes the place of another. But top sports have to be cynical and brutal. It might sound a bit strange, but we have to try to think of Ingvild, but we also did and Ski-Norge in mind, says Iversen.
– Wouldn’t it have been more logical to start in Beitostølen?
– We will limit competitive activities, there are requirements for the Olympics and now she has the possibility to qualify there instead of going to Beitostølen. You might say it’s unfair to others, but we think it’s fair to her.
Ensures the best presumed optimal preparations
Cross country manager Espen Bjervig has the final say on outs. He comments on Kvisle’s harsh criticism as follows:
– There are always a lot of opinions and a lot of emotions surrounding withdrawals. My job at the elite level in an Olympic season is to ensure that we have the best possible team ready to start the Olympics. This means that choices and priorities must be made to ensure that the presumed best receive optimal preparations.
Bjervig also points out that it is clearly emphasized that elite runners will have priority for the World Cup race before Christmas is clearly stated in the association’s season information.
– But they will be judged at their discretion if they are fit enough to compete in the World Cup. With this season’s tight World Cup schedule, probably more riders than before will have the opportunity to show off at international ski races.
– A delicate balance between what the environment thinks is right
Erik Bråten is the coach of another athlete who has to take a difficult road to get to the Olympics. Ragnhild Haga was not deemed good enough for the national team this spring and has his own private program this season.
Bråten says it is above all very gratifying that Østberg is back and seeing the situation from both sides. He was, and still is, associated with the Canadian national team, along with having coaching responsibilities in Haga’s private efforts.
– It’s a delicate balance between what the environment thinks is right and we’ve made considerations internally and we think it’s best. I guess there are many assessments they made in this case here. More “locked” places are no good for Ragnhild which is my main priority now, so purely selfishly the needle’s eye is even tighter no matter how fast it goes.
– At the same time, I don’t know what kind of foundation is at the bottom here. Good reviews were probably made. And then I trust Ragnhild so much, but it gets a little more difficult, says Bråten.