Aleksandr Bolshunov and several other Russian cross-country stars are starting the season in Russia’s annexed Crimea, but say there is no politics behind the workout.
Parliamentary Representative Tage Pettersen (H) is totally uncooperative.
A member of the culture and family commission, he is also responsible for sports policy. He does not like that Alexander Bolshunov and other stars go to Crimea.
An area controlled by Ukraine until 2014.
– The Russians probably see this as part of their domain. But any time the rest of the world isn’t the same with them, it’s a provocation, says Pettersen.
Gets criticism from Reztsova
It was Yuri Borodavko’s training group that added the first training session of the season to the annexed Crimean peninsula.
Artists such as Aleksandr Bolshunov, Natalya Neprjajeva and Yulia Stupak will take part in the rally.
On linea case was first mentioned in Norway, and to the newspaper Vegard Ulvang, leader of the cross-country skiing committee of the International Ski Federation (FIS), says the symbolism is significant.
– They are probably more concerned about the reputation in Russia, where they should show that even if it is possible to carry out a so-called special operation, it does not change anything in their preparations, says Ulvang.
And it’s not just in Norway that Borodavko and Russian cross-country skiers are being criticized.
Because the former Olympic champion Anfisa Reztsova, who often speaks in the Russian medium, hits hard in the choice of the famous coach.
– Why did he decide to have the training camp in Crimea? Collections should be somewhere else than they were before. He is not right. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why he’s doing this now, says Reztsova Sport Express.
– Great place to train
But Yuri Borodavko does not understand why Norwegian experts are critical.
– We have had training camps in Crimea since 2011, when it was Ukraine. There’s no politics involved, we’re just going to practice. Crimea is a great place to train, Borodavko tells Sport-Express.
Pål Kolstø, a Norwegian professor of Russian studies at the University of Oslo, understands Borodavko and explains that the Crimean peninsula is considered part of Russia for most Russians.
– It’s so ingrained that they hardly experience it as a provocation overall. Crimea is a big city and a popular vacation destination for Russians. They’re probably wondering why they shouldn’t have a training session there, he says.
But sports politician Tage Pettersen disagrees with the professor.
– Sport is probably one of the areas where Putin almost personally lost quite a few faces. We must not ignore the fact that there is a reaction to this.