Norwegian Iversen 'misses' the Russians in the competitions

On March 1, 2022, the International Ski Federation (FIS) decided, with immediate effect and in the middle of the season, that no Russian or Belarusian skier would be allowed to compete at any level until the end of the 2021-2022 season due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

This decision was extended to the last season and at the end of October the FIS announced that it would remain in force "until further notice." As a result, Russian and Belarusian skiers will also be banned from international competition during the 2023-24 season.

Norway absolutely dominated the men's competition last season, winning 27 out of the 30 World Cup events. They also secured gold in all six distances at the Planica World Championships, where they won 10 out of the 12 individual medals on offer, as well as two team events (the team sprint and the 4x10km relay). 

The Norwegians also took all three podium places in 10 World Cup events and in the 30km Skiathlon and the 15km freestyle events at the World Championships.

However, it hasn't been a good season for the four-time world champion and reigning Olympic team silver medallist, Emil Iversen. The 32-year-old is on the verge of going three years without an individual podium finish since his last victory in a race in Lahti in January 2021.

Iversen skis behind Bolshunov three years ago. © Getty Images
Iversen skis behind Bolshunov three years ago. © Getty Images

The Scandinavian has told Nettavisen that he would like to see the conditions for the return of Russian skiers. "This situation is extremely negative for cross-country skiing. And also for Russian skiing as well. They were almost our only competitors in recent years. Let's hope for peace and that they can return," he said.

"It is necessary to put an end to what is happening. Of course, it should be difficult to find motivation in such circumstances," added Iversen, who won a silver medal in the 4x10 km relay at the Beijing 2022 Games, just behind the quartet representing the Russian Olympic Committee in an event that took place 11 days before the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. At the time, the Russians were unable to represent Russia due to a doping issue dating back to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile, the former Olympic relay champion and current coach of one of the Russian groups, Yuri Borodavko, admitted that the situation is difficult. "The level of competition is dropping and the problems at home are becoming more and more of a distraction," he told local media.

It is worth noting that Borodavko is the coach of Aleksandr Bolshunov, one of the biggest stars in cross-country skiing with his three gold medals at the Beijing Games (two individual and the aforementioned relay). Bolshunov is one of the few skiers to have challenged and beaten the dominant Norwegians on the snow with amazing athletes like Klaebo, Golberg, Krüger, and others.