Norway’s bad boy of skiing, Petter Northug, has been unusually humble and self-deprecating in recent weeks, as his hopes for a comeback on the ski trails melt before his very eyes. He even admitted to things looking “hopeless” over the weekend, but he’s scoring some success as an author and gearing up for a new career as a TV commentator.
Northug’s national ski team coaches and other officials in the country’s large skiing bureaucracy noted that their former skiing star is basically adjusting to reality. There were no loud complaints from Northug, for example, when he wasn’t selected for the team that headed to Finland for the World Cup season opener over the weekend. Northug earlier has blasted the skiing “powers that be,” and mocked them on social media, but this year he accepted their decision without protest.
“Petter is very realistic, that’s the big difference,” Vidar Løfshus, chief of the Norwegian national ski team, told newspaper Aftenposten. “He has oriented himself to the new reality. There’s no point griping if he just isn’t in shape.”
And he clearly wasn’t, after performing badly in Norway’s own season opener at Beitostølen and then skiing dismally at this past weekend’s Norway Cup competition at Gålå – where he’d been sent when he wasn’t good enough for the World Cup opener. Northug was crushed in the 15-kilometer race and didn’t even place among the 30 best.
After finishing a lowly 37th, Northug told reporters at the finish line that he was quite sure Løfshus, other officials and his ski team colleagues “are laughing about me now, and thinking ‘what an idiot.'”
He’s already hinted that he’ll retire before Christmas if he keeps skiing so poorly. He probably won’t be idle long, though. Norway’s national commercial television channel TV2 confirmed that they’ll hire Northug as an expert commentator who will “work with program- and sports-related content” when he retires. Northug himself wouldn’t comment.
The 32-year-old skier has had some success this autumn, however, with the latest book about him. It’s been selling briskly, leading co-author Jonas Forsang of publishing firm Pilar Forlag to call the sales figures “completely exceptional.” The book completely sold out by early November, even with a press run of 42,000, which is a lot in a small country like Norway and for a book printed in Norwegian.
Some of Northug’s smugness and sarcasm seemed to return, though, when he told newspaper Dagbladet that he was “not surprised” by the brisk sales or that his life story was so popular. He was only surprised that the publishing company hadn’t foreseen the demand and printed enough books.