New deal for Northug

Petter Northug is back on the national team after agreeing to a new three-year deal with Norges Skiforbund

Photo: frederikringnes  / Wikimedia Commons Petter Northug at the 2012 Ski Sprint World Cup in Drammen, Norway.

Photo: frederikringnes / Wikimedia Commons
Petter Northug at the 2012 Ski Sprint World Cup in Drammen, Norway.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

Less than two months after Petter Northug was officially dropped from the national men’s team, the elite cross-country skier has agreed to a three-year deal with Norges Skiforbund (Norwegian Ski Federation).

The controversy ensued when the federation announced on Sept. 15 that Northug had refused to accept the original one-year offer on account of his personal sponsorship and need for commercial freedom. This offer was allegedly the same as the year before, which stated that Northug could keep his sponsorship with the grocery store chain Coop in the off season as long as he represented the national team and its sponsors throughout the competitive season from November to April.

While many competitive skiers do have personal sponsorships, the federation states that they can only accommodate these partnerships as long as they don’t conflict with the federation’s exclusive agreement—and therefore the future of Norwegian skiing.

“It is impossible for Norges Skiforbund to deviate from the principle that anyone who represents Norway and who is qualified to do so must respect the national team’s commercial rights. It is these rights that ensure the operation of the national team and financing of the Norwegian skiing community,” stated the organization in a press release on Sept. 15.

Because Northug wanted to represent Coop all year long, they claimed that the agreement would in fact conflict with the national team’s own sponsorships.

At this point Norges Skiforbund declared that they would not take any initiative to create a new deal for Northug and Coop. However, Northug publicly requested a meeting—which he personally attended—and a month of deliberations ensued.

On Oct. 25, the federation announced that Northug had agreed to a three-year deal and will participate with the national team in World Cup competition through the Winter Olympics in 2018.

The new deal is essentially the same as the one that Northug had last year, where he can continue wearing Coop logos during the off-season, but it extends an extra two years.

“We are pleased that Petter Northug has now accepted a new agreement within the framework that Norges Skiforbund has been able to offer him. He will endorse the team throughout the season, with the same rights and obligations as every other member of the national team,” says the federation’s president Erik Røste in the Oct. 25 announcement.

“It has been a process where all of the conditions have been discussed thoroughly in the past few weeks, not least because the agreement extends until the end of the 2018 Olympic season. Several of our best cross-country skiers have similar long-term agreements. I have not had any negotiating mandate beyond the parameters that Petter was offered earlier this year,” added the federation’s Secretary General Stein Opsal.

As expected, Northug is satisfied with their decision. “I am pleased that I have been heard and that I have received a three-year agreement with Norges Skiforbund. The agreement gives me the athletic freedom I need to win several races and take many golds for Norway,” he said in a press release.

Most would argue that the federation made all of the compromises in this deal and that Northug has gotten what he wanted. One of those is NRK’s skiing commentator Fredrik Aukland, who said: “It’s Petter Northug who is emerging victorious from all this. He got a long-term deal and a better deal than he’s ever had before.”

Regardless of the original decision, Northug admits that he has been confidently training for the World Cup throughout the summer and fall and is looking forward to the quickly approaching season.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 6, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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