Swedes welcome Northug back

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After months of negotiations with Norway’s national skiing federation, shamed professional skier Petter Northug will be able to rejoin the national team and ski for Norway during the Nordic Skiing World Championships in Falun, Sweden in February. The Swedes seem happier than the Norwegians.

Petter Northug made his finish look easy in the men's relay at the World Championships on Friday, but wasn't so smug when the Swedes he loves to tease ended up beating him on Sunday. PHOTO: fiemme2013.com/Newspower Canon

Petter Northug will be able to ski for Norway in the upcoming World Championships, just like he did in those here in Italy in 2013. PHOTO: fiemme2013.com/Newspower Canon

“Petter was one of our ambassadors when we applied to host the World Championships,” director Sven von Holst told newspaper Dagsavisen. “He was very professional then, and he didn’t ask for any compensation. He did it to help us. He’s also quite popular in Sweden and Falun especially.”

That’s unusual praise for a skier who otherwise has loved to taunt the Swedes, and has treated some of his chief Swedish rivals with disdain. Von Holst, though, said Northug can help draw crowds to the upcoming championships that run from February 18 to March 1.

Northug’s problems with the skiing authorities in Norway have involved not just his drunk-driving spree last spring but also his initial refusal to drop his private sponsorships and commercial ventures in favour of the national team’s sponsors. He remains a good and fast skier, though, so the foundation ultimately wanted him back on the team.

They ended up striking a deal that legally makes Northug part of the national team again from November 24 until April 7, 2015. Northug can sell his much-hyped new clothing collection until November 24 and revert to his private sponsor, retailer Coop, after April 7. Northug also wanted to ski in the World Championships, so gave in on a few points himself.

It remains unclear when Northug will serve his mandatory jail term, handed down in connection with his drunk driving crash that cost him his Audi sponsorship.

newsinenglish.no staff