Two top Norwegian skiers ended up being disqualified from races during the ski racing season’s opening event at Beitostølen in the mountains of southern Norway over the weekend. The crackdown signaled tougher enforcement of the rules and more cameras spotting violations along the tracks.
Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who won last year’s Tour de Ski and is considered among the world’s top racers, was caught skating for a portion of a men’s 15-kilometer race where only classic skiing within the tracks was allowed. He otherwise would have won, as Maiken Caspersen Falla was expected to do as well, only to be disqualified in a sprint race on Sunday because she wrongly changed tracks on a curve.
There was no mercy for either, and skiing experts generally agreed that the tougher enforcement of race rules is a good thing. It also may force through some changes: “If the jury had done its job (earlier), many World Cup results might have been different,” Åge Skinstad, former chief of competitive Norwegian cross-country skiing told newspaper Dagsavisen on Monday.
The Norwegians generally did well at Beitostølen, with Sundby roaring back to victory on Saturday and some new stars being born, like Kari Øyre Slind from Oppdal, who won in freestyle skiing on Saturday and is heading for World Cup competition. Much-hyped skiing star Petter Northug didn’t do as well as expected, finishing fourth against Sundby on Saturday and losing to Eirik Brandsdal in the spring. He gave himself a score of two on a scale from one to six, and is now heading for intensive training at high elevations through Christmas.
The terrorist attacks in Paris Friday night cast a shadow over the season opener at Beitostølen but at least it started snowing. There had been fears the races would be canceled because of a lack of snow earlier in November.