Ski jumping: Internal anger and financial problems – Norway and Poland in crisis

As of: December 5th, 2023 2:17 p.m

While the German and Austrian ski jumpers are celebrating non-stop success, the start of the season for Norway and Poland has gone really wrong. The problems run deep.

Hannes Nebelung

While the German and Austrian While ski jumpers are celebrating non-stop success, the start of the season in Norway and Poland has gone really wrong. Both nations are miles away from the top of the world. In Norway, even the future of the sport is being questioned.

Black-red-gold and red-white-red dominate the ski jumping worldcup. The first seven places in the overall ranking are occupied by German-speaking jumpers. Logical, because in the first four competitions of the winter the first five places almost exclusively went there. Only the Japanese Ryoyu Kobayashi came fifth once in Lillehammer.

The expert ski jumperfan I looked in vain for Norwegians and Poles in the top 10 in Ruka and Lillehammer. The traditional top nations are having an extremely difficult time – and for different reasons.

What comes after the golden era in Poland?

For the Poles, the golden era around Kamil Stoch and Dawid Kubacki seems to be coming to a painful end. The three-time Olympic champion and Four Hills Tournament winner Stoch missed qualifying for the final in the second competition in Ruka as 51st of 53 jumpers; in Lillehammer he collected his only three worlds in 28th placecup-Points.

Nothing like this has ever happened in my career. (…) Everyone is nervous and worried“, said Stoch about the disappointing performances of the Poles on the first two weekends. The 36-year-old addressed the ski jumping-crazy Polish people in an almost stately manner: “At this point I ask you fansto be patient and believe in ourselves.”

Debacle in Ruka and Lillehammer

His gave a lot of reason for hope teamneither do colleagues. With Dawid Kubacki (33) and Piotr Zyla (36), the other veteran title collectors didn’t even make it into the top 20. And that, even though Zyla triumphed on the normal hill at the World Championships last winter and Kubacki finished third on the large hill. Poland’s coach Thomas Turnbichler spoke at Eurosport “from one of the hardest days in my coaching career“.

The years in which the Poles fed on the substance of their top stars are over. Alexander Zniszczoł (29) also disappointed in Ruka and Lillehammer and becomes a veteran in Klingenthal Maciej Kot (32) replaced. Stoch could also be out of the World Cupteam slide. But because there are no alternatives, his starting position probably wouldn’t even be filled.

Granerud and Co. are far away from the top of the world

The Norwegians were also disappointed in terms of sport, and not just at homecup last weekend in Lillehammer. Halvor Egner Granerud lies behind in 17th place in the overall ranking. He won this a year ago, and the 27-year-old also triumphed in the tour and the Ski Flying World Championships.

Tande rails against the jury: “Bad and unprofessional”

Things got even worse for Olympic champion Daniel Andre Tande: the 29-year-old missed his 200th World Championship in his home countrycup-Appearance in 42nd place in the second round. Tande then blamed the police jury. This would have him at “physically impossible“Conditions left from beam: “I just think it’s bad and unprofessional.

Norway’s sports director Clas Brede Brathen did not want to allow this as an excuse. The head of the ski jumpers is currently struggling with other headlines anyway. Around the disappointing competitions in Lillehammer, Brathen had to defend himself against public taunts from his own ranks.

Olympic champion Grabaak taunts ski jumpers

Jörgen Graabak, a four-time Olympic champion in Nordic combined, brought his teamcolleagues Jarl-Magnus Riiber came into play on the Norwegian TV channel NRK: “I wish he had competed in the special jumping today. If anyone can beat (Stefan) Kraft on this hill, it’s Jarl.”

This half-serious advice did not go down well with ski jumping sports director Brathen: “I think the other (Norwegian combined athletes) should try Riiber catch up instead of trying to compare him with others.” Riiber dominates the combined world in a similar way to ski jumper Stefan Kraftcup. Graabak, who was on the podium twice in Lillehammer, countered this smugly.

I think Clas Brede should rather accept this challenge. He and the others should be better than us, but at the moment I don’t think they are. (…) I think I may have hit a little nerve there. I think that speaks for itself.

Combined Jörgen Graabak about Norway’s ski jumpers

Financial worries: Norway faces an uncertain future

In fact, there are major concerns about the future of winter sports. The entire Norwegian Ski Association is short of money – and not too short: for the ski jumpers alone, a deficit of around one million euros is expected for 2023, despite Granerud’s successes.

“We have already made so many cuts that we find them dramatic”Brathen clarified on the Norwegian TV channel NRK. “Cuts that go beyond what has already been made are seen as irresponsible and unfair.” The ski jumpers are there “at the absolute subsistence level if we want to fulfill our vision ‘We want to be the most important jumper nation in the world'”.

Norway’s ski jumping boss is considering partial withdrawal

As a cost-cutting measure it is being discussed that the Norwegian team one world or anothercupstation could be omitted for cost reasons. Brathen defends himself against this with clear words and instead brings the ski jumpers’ separation from the umbrella organization into play. In this way, ski jumpers should become more independent from an economic point of view and finance themselves.

As with the Poles, it is uncertain whether things will get better in terms of sport. The next worldcup-Jumping could, however, be a source of encouragement again. The ski jumps in Klingenthal and Engelberg are much more suitable for ski pilots around Granerud and Co. Good results are urgently needed, also to somewhat conceal the long-term and structural problems.