In Nordic Combined, a special sense of community has always played a big role and set it apart from other, bigger sports. In times of economic hardships for many of the smaller ski nations and in a sport which demands expensive infrastructure, a high amount of knowledge and dedication, one of the most effective ways to keep moving forward is to cooperate with others within this community.
Examples which show that this is not only a theoretical thought but a realistic and much-used option can be found in the U.S., whose national team traditionally cooperates and supports athletes from its neighbour, Canada. Switzerland’s last remaining Nordic Combined athlete Tim Hug joined the Norwegian national team for his last season last year, a move that Estonia’s Kristjan Ilves has repeated for this season. And also on the women’s side, world-leader Tara Geraghty-Moats has enjoyed Norwegian hospitality in Trondheim and Oslo this summer and fall.
With its long tradition in Nordic Combined, systematic knowledge and of course last but not least with the current man to beat, Jarl Magnus Riiber, Norway draws young athletes from many countries to its shores.
Iceland’s Anton Øyvindsson moved to Lillehammer to follow his dream of becoming a Nordic Combined athlete. “We had a jumping hill in Olafsfjordur in Iceland but it is no longer in use these days. I chose to move to Lillehammer, where I train and study at the sports school. Like any athlete, I dream of participating in competitions of the World Cup and the Olympic Games. Next season, I hope to represent Iceland in Lausanne at the Youth Olympic Games.”
A mix of nations in Trondheim
Granåsen Skiteam in Trondheim, Norway has traditionally been fertile soil for top class Nordic Combined athletes: the great Magnus Moan or Olympic gold medallist Jørgen Graabak are from here. Currently, the city is hosting three young foreign athletes: Latvia’s Markuss Vinogradovs, USA’s Henry Johnstone and Italia’s Daniela Dejori.
Granåsen Skiteam Coach Andre Nyeng Olsen welcomes the international additions: “It is a big honour for us that athletes from three different counties chose to come to Trondheim to develop and work towards their goals as senior athletes. The way we see it is that they have all three brought new elements that have lifted and improved the sport and cultural development here in Granåsen.”
“In September, I started a year abroad in Trondheim mainly because I wanted to have some new experiences and of course because I knew that Norway was one of the best places for as an athlete since everybody up there seems to practice some kind of sport”, Daniela Dejori says about her time in Norway. “Now, I am part of the Granåsen Skiteam and also take part in competitions here. I am very lucky to share an apartment with my fellow Nordic Combined athletes Marte and Mari Leinan Lund. I go to the Heimdal Videregående Skole where I am in the same class as Gyda Westvold Hansen, who is one of the best Nordic Combined athletes right now.”
Also Latvian Markuss Vinogradovs will spend a year in Trondheim as part of an exchange programme. He started his time in Norway in the summer and will attend Heimdal Videregående Skole until next June with an option to extend his stay.
USA’s Henry Johnstone’s stay will be shorter, he is just spending the fall in Trondheim, but is enjoying his time so far. “I came here because Norway is a beautiful country with skiing ingrained in its culture. I wanted to experience training and living here, and so far it has been great; I’m living very close to the awesome training facilities, meeting new people, and making progress. I’m enjoying training here and I’m excited to bring what I’ve learned back to the US this season!"