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Archive for May, 2009

The Drama that is Skiing

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Recently the National Governing Body for cross-country skiing in Canada, Cross-Country Canada (CCC) came to a compromise agreement with young star Alex Harvey to ensure Harvey’s inclusion on the World Cup Team, and the associated support, for the summer.  CCC had threatened to leave Harvey off the team as Harvey planned to miss two of the four World Cup training camps – the first this month in order to minimize travel, and the second in the fall when Harvey planned to head to Austria for on-snow training.   The compromise was that Harvey would attend the May camp in Western Canada, but would go to Austria as he has in past years.  Director of High Performance at CCC Tom Holland made it clear that this was an exception made for Alex, but that the precedent could result in similar requests (or demands) from other athletes.

At a news conference, Alex repeated several times that his desire had been for the issue to be handled internally.   But the media got wind of it, setting off a round of sniping in the press, and a drama that concluded with last week’s compromise.  This was the second upheaval in the Canadian program in the last few weeks.  In addition to the Harvey incident, head World Cup coach Arild Monsen, who was hired a year ago as part of the run-up to the Olympics, was fired and replaced with another Norwegian, Inge Bråten.

The purpose here is not to pick on Canada, but to point out that drama follows Cross-Country Skiing, just like any other professional sport.  In North America we are somewhat isolated from the soap operas of some of the European teams.  The latest controversy involved a group of young Norwegian women on the National Team supposedly expressing displeasure with Head Coach Egil Kristiansen, and calling for his replacement with current Swiss coach Frederik Aukland.  And last year a number of top Swedish skiers quit the National Team and formed their own group.  It took the hiring of Gunde Svan to bring them back in to the fold.