Northug weary of his own celebrity

Bookmark and Share

Petter Northug, Norway’s sometimes surly skiing star, reportedly is getting tired of his celebrity status at home. The coach of the men’s cross-country ski team is worried Northug may cut his career short so he can just be a normal guy.

Petter Northug, shown here on the shoulders of his relay teammates at last year's World Championships, is an unconventional athlete who now may be tiring of his own celebrity status. PHOTO: Stian Broch/Oslo 2011

Vidar Løfshus told newspaper Adresseavisen in Trondheim that he sees how Northug is plagued by the constant attention he gets in the media and on the street.

“I’m afraid he’ll lose his motivation, because he can never just be himself,” Løfshus said. “He can’t set his foot on the street without someone calling after him, or wanting to have their picture taken with him.”

Løfshus said Northug never gets any peace. “It probably was fun with some attention when he was 19,” Løfshus told Adresseavisen. “But he doesn’t think it is anymore.”

Northug has often been portrayed as a bit of a brat, refusing to talk to reporters when he’s performed poorly, or being arrogant and sarcastic when he’s done well. His avid poker playing and trips to Las Vegas have also come under criticism and he had to publicly apologize when he kept officials and fellow skiers waiting when he failed to show up promptly and in mandatory skiing attire after winning a race last year.

He landed in trouble again over the weekend when he won a race at the Norwegian Cup in Trondheim and didn’t even bother to show up when the awards were presented. Newspapers carried photos of the second- and third-place winners smiling bravely, while the top spot on the podium was empty.

“I have had a clarification meeting about that with John Northug (Petter’s father and manager),” Løfshus told news bureau NTB. “It was clearly poor media handling, but it happened and now it’s over.”

Løfshus said he’s sure Northug will continue skiing and competing at least until the next Winter Olympics in 2014, but fears Northug will hang up his skis before his time is really up.

“I think he should continue for another five or six years,” Løfshus said. “But it demands a lot of motivation to live this special kind of life.” Northug along with other top Norwegian skiers Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug are all expected to take part in the next World Cup competition at Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic this weekend.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

Please support our stories by clicking on the “Donate” button now: