Toppidrettsveka rollerski festival in Aure/Trondheim last week was a success. Like all the previous Toppidrettsvekas that were held since 2006. Like pretty much anything that has to do with the great sport of cross country skiing in Norway.
In a sign that things are going better and better, a combined domestic television audience has reached 1.5 million viewers – or 500,000 more compared with last year. That’s in a country with a total population of 5.2 million. Nations fathers and concerned politicians the world over – take a notice! There must be a tight link between popularity of skiing and the fact that the Scandinavian country currently tops the rankings as the world’s happiest nation.
One thing, however makes this conversation slightly less straighforward and calls for a bit of a discussion: was that massive jump of TV viewing numbers ( and, therefore, general interest in the competition) due only to the presence of top skiing stars from Norway, Sweden, France, Finland etc. – or were there some other factors?
A commentator of the Tidens Krav, a Norwegian newspaper certainly thinks there were:
“Challenges” is an understatement – the rain turned portions of the distance into pools of water making it look at times less a traditional rollerskiing and more like a cross between water skiing and the Spartan Race
Speaking of which – the Spartan Race franchise ( also known as the Death Race) is taking the world by storm – both as participatory sport and television show. There must be something about overcoming the obstacles that attracts the contemporary human more than traditional sports. More drama? More falls and sudden breaks?
If the sport of cross country skiing wants to compete for audience and, therefore, for sponsors attention with the “new sports” such as Spartan Races, RedBull 400, Tough Mudders etc. – it would have to add an element of drama and unpredictability to competitions. Ski sprints do have that already ( just ask Iivo Niskanen) – but there would have to be more of them – and more deliberate. Let’s have those pools of water at the Toppidrettsveka again next year – but built on purpose already.