Team Norway: The best of both worlds

Sports blog Nordic Combined Norway is the latest participant in the summer series #fisnoco around the world. And true to their name, of course editor-in-chief Marion Grumbd gives closer insights to one of Nordic Combined’s big nations, Norway and their biggest challenge in the years to come: the generation change.

Experienced athletes sustain the system

The Norwegian team has to be counted among the older ones in the Word Cup. Magnus Moan, a fixture on the tour for the past 15 years and collector of numerous world championship and Olympic medals, turns 34 this August and is the oldest athlete on the team. But in spite of some setbacks and injuries, he is not thinking of hanging up his skis anytime soon as his experience and the pressure put up by younger teammates add to his motivation in training. The list of thirty-somethings can be continued with Jan Schmid, Mikko Kokslien and Magnus Krog. Most of them have families, creating challenges for the training at some points but ultimately increasing the performances, as can be seen by two silver medals at the World Championships in Lahti.

Norway, THE country of Nordic sports is doing a lot for the development of younger athletes in their three training centres of Oslo, Lillehammer and Trondheim. Quite often, you can see the well-known faces of former athletes actively involved in this work these days: Jan Christian Bjørn coordinating the youth work in Oslo, the brothers Ole Martin and Gudmund Storlien as coaches on the COC level. New on the coaching staff is Håvard Klemetsen, who still competed for World Cup points last season. He is in charge of team “Beijing 2022”, which consists of seven B-team athletes at the moment who attend special training camps.

The younger generation is coming

That the generation change is also in progress in the Norwegen team became apparent in the last two years. Espen Andersen, a 24-year-old from Lillehammer, had his first compete World Cup season last winter, which he ended above all expectations with an overall rank 15. He celebrated his first World Cup victory in the Team Spring together with Jørgen Graabak and followed up with a solid 10th rank from the normal hill at his World Championship debut in Lahti. 

The more or less hidden star of the team is another, however: Jarl Magnus Riiber (19). He has been on the Norwegian top team for the past two years and definitely gave his competition food for thought. Riiber took the ski jumping part of Nordic Combined to a completely new level and was often able to start a race with a head start of over one minute. At the same time, he is helping his teammates to improve on the jumping hill. His brother Harald (22, member of the B-team) put it in words: “Jarl and me have Nordic Combined in our genes, we are the third generation participate in it. But Jarl has so much talent and feeling on the jumping hill. I would need years and years to get to his level.”

Unfortunately, the last two years have not always been resounding successes for the younger Riiber. Since an injury years back, he has had trouble with his left shoulder. The World Cup in Lahti in 2016 brought this old injury back in the most painful way: while being in the lead in the Team Sprint together with Jan Schmid, Riiber was suddenly lying in the snow, screaming in pain. Diagnosis: dislocated shoulder, the preliminary season end for the then 18-year-old. Riiber fought back until the following summer and won the Summer Grand Prix in a dominating way. With the World Championships in Lahti approaching, Riiber was being named as one of the favourites at the beginning of the winter but these hopes evaporated fast. At the Nordic Combined TRIPLE at the end of January, suddenly hectic activity broke out on the jumping hill tower. Physiotherapists of the other teams hastened to the rescue: Riiber had dislocated his shoulder again, ironically as he was putting on his jumping suit. The season was done, the dream of the World Championships over. Shortly after, Riiber had surgery in his home town of Oslo to fix the issue. 

After completing the rehabilitation process this spring, the ambitiousness of the young shooting star seems to know no bounds. He started into the spring training and the shoulder held up well on many roller ski kilometres in southern climates. On the past weekend, Riiber made his national comeback in two Norges Cup competitions - and won both ahead of his older teammates. The upcoming Olympic season will definitely offer a lot of suspense as to what is possible for Team Norway.

Some words about Nordic Combined Norway

Nordic Combined Norway and its editor in chief, Marion Grumbd, has reported about what is happening in the land of Vikings since 2016. A facebook page features international and national competition news, interviews, photos and team news, joined by elaborated information about the team, portraits, interviews, competition news and picture galleries on the website.