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Doping in XC skiing

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This is nothing new. It has been that way for many decades.
The Norwegian are not that impressive on the Junior level but once they jump to the men their performances skyrocket.
This was especially comical in the 1990s when Norway was particularly weak among the Junior level while running circles around everyone on the senior leve. Makes you wonder, why the men team didn`t share their "stone grinding secrets" with their fellow countrymen, cough cough.
Tbf, the Italians were not far behind in the 90ies, but we all know how that happened. Hell, guys who skied on the national team in the 80ies had health problems afterwards, often related to all kind of transfusions that the Italians experimented with.

Otherwise you're correct, it's just interesting that central Europe is still keeping up in the youth ranks, despite how much the talent pool has shrunken.
 
Jan 24, 2021
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This is nothing new. It has been that way for many decades.
The Norwegian are not that impressive on the Junior level but once they jump to the men their performances skyrocket.
This was especially comical in the 1990s when Norway was particularly weak among the Junior level while running circles around everyone on the senior leve. Makes you wonder, why the men team didn`t share their "stone grinding secrets" with their fellow countrymen, cough cough.

This would be a very cool story if it was only backed up by facts.
I mean, SURE, the norwegians were good in the 90s, but WHO were these norwegians that "ran circles around everyone on the senior level"?
Well, they didn't compete much in the junior world's in the 90s as the most successful ones were older (Dæhlie for most of the decade and Ulvang for the first half + the odd flash in the pan)
There is one big exception to this of course, Thomas Alsgaard, but he was actually quite dominant also in the juniors (some 3 junior world gold medals)

The ones that competed at junior levels in the 90s didn't really become the backbone of the national team until the 00s, and surprise surprise, in that decade Norway didn't win a single overall title, the winners Muhlegg, Elofson (twice), Fredrikson, Sommerfeldt, Angerer (twice), Teichmann, Bauer & Cologna.
Imagine that, 8 different winners of the total world cup in a decade, not a single of them norwegian. This is the same decade were Bjørndalen & Berger at times competed in the XC-team because the debth in skating was just horrible at the time.

But yeah, cool story bro.

PS: I am not saying every norwegian athlete was clean in that EPO infested era. I for one don't trust the mighty Dæhlie for a second and if I was a betting man I'd wager the physician Johan Olav Koss was doped to the gills when he slaughtered the world records on the ice oval in the Lillehammmer Olympics, but no need to invent narratives is it?

Edit: Of the other notable men competing in the 90s the most famours would probably be:
Sture Sivertsen (1966), Erling Jevne (1966), Terje Langli (1965).
Espen Bjervig was the only norwegian other than Alsgaard that ever made it to a championship relay team in the 90s that was also a junior in the same decade, but he hardly ran circles around anyone, did he?
 
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This would be a very cool story if it was only backed up by facts.
I mean, SURE, the norwegians were good in the 90s, but WHO were these norwegians that "ran circles around everyone on the senior level"?
Well, they didn't compete much in the junior world's in the 90s as the most successful ones were older (Dæhlie for most of the decade and Ulvang for the first half + the odd flash in the pan)
There is one big exception to this of course, Thomas Alsgaard, but he was actually quite dominant also in the juniors (some 3 junior world gold medals)

The ones that competed at junior levels in the 90s didn't really become the backbone of the national team until the 00s, and surprise surprise, in that decade Norway didn't win a single overall title, the winners Muhlegg, Elofson (twice), Fredrikson, Sommerfeldt, Angerer (twice), Teichmann, Bauer & Cologna.
Imagine that, 8 different winners of the total world cup in a decade, not a single of them norwegian. This is the same decade were Bjørndalen & Berger at times competed in the XC-team because the debth in skating was just horrible at the time.

But yeah, cool story bro.

PS: I am not saying every norwegian athlete was clean in that EPO infested era. I for one don't trust the mighty Dæhlie for a second and if I was a betting man I'd wager the physician Johan Olav Koss was doped to the gills when he slaughtered the world records on the ice oval in the Lillehammmer Olympics, but no need to invent narratives is it?

Edit: Of the other notable men competing in the 90s the most famours would probably be:
Sture Sivertsen (1966), Erling Jevne (1966), Terje Langli (1965).
Espen Bjervig was the only norwegian other than Alsgaard that ever made it to a championship relay team in the 90s that was also a junior in the same decade, but he hardly ran circles around anyone, did he?

I am sorry, but take a look at the Junior results in the 1990s and Norwegians really did not do much most years on the Junior level while totally destroying the field in the senior levels. 1997 as only one example where the Juniors did nothing and the seniors everything. And there are many years like that. You cant deny that theres an insane disproportion between the Norwegians succes at Junior level and their succes at the senior level in general.
And this has been the case for many decades.
 
At least with the Italians the shrinking talent pool is an actual thing. The area between Comelico and Tolmezzo used to be the backbone of the distance skiing team (De Zolt, Fauner, the Di Centas, Piller Cotterer). The area is one of the poorest of Norther Italy and lots of young people moved away because of the lack of jobs there.
Now granted, we all know what the Italians (and many of those that I named) used to do, but still.

Now granted, they still do well in Biathon where almost the whole talent comes from the villages around like 4 Biathlon arenas, but Biathlon is Biathlon and the same applies to everyone but Norway. Speaking of their recent Biathlon dominance, it really got going once they started poaching world class shooting coaches from other nations a few years ago.
 
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Jan 24, 2021
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I am sorry, but take a look at the Junior results in the 1990s and Norwegians really did not do much most years on the Junior level while totally destroying the field in the senior levels. 1997 as only one example where the Juniors did nothing and the seniors everything. And there are many years like that. You cant deny that theres an insane disproportion between the Norwegians succes at Junior level and their succes at the senior level in general.
And this has been the case for many decades.

I have taken a look and I agree (and haven't disputed): Norway didn't dominate the junior world championships in the 90s, far from it. There are exceptions of course, mainly Thomas Alsgaard.

But I think you've missed my point:
Those same juniors that didn't dominate in the junior ranks in the 90s did also not dominate in the senior ranks. THAT is my point.
(This does not mean they haven't been somewhat successful, but as mentioned: There was a full decade of no norwegians winning the overall world cup amongst the men and that is not because of one, two or three dominant non-norwegians, rather 8 different ones..)

In this millenium however, the norwegians have significantly improved in the junior ranks to the point where you could say they together with the russians have comfortably been the best nation. (I wouldn't use the word dominated and it might be that the russians have been marginally better amongst the men, i haven't counted, But if they are better, it's not by much and many of these russians like many of the norwegians have become stars at senior level too.)
Have a look at the men going to the world championships for Norway and look at their results in the junior world championships, and you'll find that most of them did from very well to fantastic.

Klæbo - dominated
Holund - individual world champion in interval start
Golberg - individual world champion interval start & silver in the sprint (ahead of italian ace Pellegrino).
Northug - Sprint world champion
Amundsen - Skiathlon world champion
Røthe - silver medalist in the 20km pursuit.

I'd argue all of these showed already at junior levels that they are big talents.

Krüger, Taugsbøl and Iversen didn't do much in junior world championships other than qualifying for the norwegian team, but that in itself means you're probably talented if your passport is norwegian.

And sure, I agree, many, especially german skiers have struggled to take the step up in the senior ranks.
I think it's a shame, I honestly do and I don't know why that is. (Although I've heard they train harder as juniors and burn out quicker, but that is hardly fitting for all I would think?)
Needs to be said: This is far from unheard of amongst the norwegian athletes too.
There are quite a few that did well in the junior ranks (like winning world titles) that for one reason or another never did much as a senior.
Some norwegian individual gold medalists in the 2000s like Even Sletten, Eirik Kurland Olsen and Eirik Augdal have done little or nothing amongst the seniors.

Anyways I digress.
My point was that the narrative of weak norwegian juniors of the 90s becoming dominant amongst the seniors is a myth (or maybe we just have different definition of dominant and this is just a question of semantics, if so I apologize.)

If you think some norwegian skiers or all of them are doped to the gills, feel free of course, I haven't entered that debate.
 
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At least with the Italians the shrinking talent pool is an actual thing. The area between Comelico and Tolmezzo used to be the backbone of the distance skiing team (De Zolt, Fauner, the Di Centas, Piller Cotterer). The area is one of the poorest of Norther Italy and lots of young people moved away because of the lack of jobs there.
Now granted, we all know what the Italians (and many of those that I named) used to do, but still.

Now granted, they still do well in Biathon where almost the whole talent comes from the villages around like 4 Biathlon arenas, but Biathlon is Biathlon and the same applies to everyone but Norway. Speaking of their recent Biathlon dominance, it really got going once they started poaching world class shooting coaches from other nations a few years ago.

This I agree with!! ;)
 
I am not saying every norwegian athlete was clean in that EPO infested era. I for one don't trust the mighty Dæhlie for a second and if I was a betting man I'd wager the physician Johan Olav Koss was doped to the gills when he slaughtered the world records on the ice oval in the Lillehammmer Olympics, but no need to invent narratives is it?
Totally agree with this, and I think it's pretty much proved with discussions and articles connecting the dots in this very thread. However, we also know that two of the much more recent Norwegian XC-skiing dominants, Johnsrud Sundby and Johaug, are convicted for breaching doping regulations. It truly casts a shadow on the whole magic dominance, especially since the "openness" and ambition to find out what actually went on was pretty much zero from Norse skiing authorities.
 
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I'm sure he also eats healthier and drinks less alcohol than the others.
I am sure. Biathlon stars land in trouble - Norway's News in English — www.newsinenglish.no

I actually think he is a likeable guy. The showings this year and at the World Cup are still beyond ridiculous. Lets just say he is the most naturally gifted biathlet ever - are those really the margins he should be better than the best of the rest? Like written above, its almost like you put a professional athlete in some recreational weekend cross-country race.
 
The thing is, you don't even get to hope. The most crushing of Martin Fourcade's wins were the ones where he made mistakes and shot a couple of errors, meaning you knew if Svendsen, Shipulin, Schempp, Bø, or whoever was the flavour of the month opposition on the best form at the time could get the perfect score, they could beat him... but then all of them made mistakes and Fourcade still won. Those wins were the most crushing because you thought you'd get some variety, and then you didn't.

With Johannes right now you don't even get that. Like, he missed two targets and not one person could have dared to dream, "if only I'd hit that extra target". Only two men were within 2 minutes of him for ski time, and both of them lost enough time in the range that they wouldn't have beaten Bø even with 20/20 - Ponsiluoma and Jérémy Finello (who was also really quick in the pursuit on Sunday). The latter would have been incredibly close - less than 5 seconds - but he missed 7 targets so I dare to say had he been closer to the win he would possibly have shot more slowly under the pressure.

And there isn't even the variety behind - this is the 7th time this season that we've had a Bø-Lægreid 1-2, and there are 5 races where it's been Bø 1st, somebody else 2nd and Lægreid 3rd. On 3 of those 5 occasions, that other podium athlete has been a Norwegian too (Tarjei Bø twice and Christiansen once). Interestingly, however, if Bø is first and Sturla is 2nd, not once has another Norwegian completed the podium (Samuelsson and Jacquelin twice, Ponsiluoma, Doll and Rees once each) - but in the two races Bø was 3rd (the Fischer ski disaster in Annecy), Lægreid 1st in the pursuit then 2nd in the Mass Start, beaten by Johannes Dale, while Christiansen came between them in the pursuit meaning Norway swept the podium of both races. In the three races this season where Lægreid missed the podium, in two of them he was 4th, and in both of those there were still two Norwegians on the podium, with Johannes winning both, and Tarjei and Christiansen picking up the slack. Only once this season has there been no Norwegian on the podium - the very first race of the season - and in every race since there has been at least two Norwegians on the podium, five of which have been podium sweeps.

Or, to put it another way, in terms of the number of podiums this season (not even just wins):

Johannes Thingnes Bø 16
Sturla Holm Lægreid 14

The Rest of the World 21
of which:
Non-Norwegians 14
 
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JTB is such a long established athlete on World Cup level that this kind of rise in basic physical ability we have seen this seaon is a major red flag in itself. The fact it propelled an already dominant skier to a level where he can toy with everyone at will, including his teammates who have the benefit of the same state of the art training conditions and who often sweep the rest of the podium and more, is just rubbing it in.
 
JTB is such a long established athlete on World Cup level that this kind of rise in basic physical ability we have seen this seaon is a major red flag in itself. The fact it propelled an already dominant skier to a level where he can toy with everyone at will, including his teammates who have the benefit of the same state of the art training conditions and who often sweep the rest of the podium and more, is just rubbing it in.
Yeah, it's really hard to even pretend that this isn't some shady, Mühlegg level improvement.