William Hazlitt, a XIX century English literary critic and essayist, was also a foreteller of things to come:
“…When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.”
For the modern world is build on controvercy – the more of them, the more interest and, ultimately, the more money to invest to keep things going.
As the one of the most authoritative philosophers of our time, Miley Cyrus, once opined:
People like controversy because that’s what sells.
By the way, at the tender age of 27, Miley has more money than needed to buy the whole of the international cross country skiing, lock, stock & barrel – were she so inclined.
Armed with that ( controversial!) wisdom, we selected what we thought were the most controversial events, words & issues of the outgoing year:
– February. Ustiugov – Klaebo brawl at the Seefeld World Championships goes properly viral. Russian and Norwegian press have a field day analyzing and “opinionizing”. By the end of the week even babushkas in Russia are well aware of the news that “Klaebo cheated”.
– February. Max Hauke being caught red-handed. Or, rather, red-armed.
– March. Wofgang Pichler, famed biathlon coach calls cross country skiing a “B-sport”. Tongue-in-cheek. Maybe. The fact is, the international biathlon is currently far more financially lucrative undertaking for all involved than the international cross country skiing.
– April. Three Nordic public broadcasters lose a battle for TV rights for international skiing competitions. For, literally, generations NRK, SVT and YLE were owning broadcasting rights for skiing – and now, as of autumn 2021, things will have to change. It’s not just that their license money were underpinning the World Cup events – the whole system is set in such a way that broadcasting on public i.e. free-to-air airways is essential to the sport’s survival. The new rights’ owner, NENT or Nordic Entertainment Group, has not made public as yet what are they planning to do with their newly acquired rights. Best case scenario for skiing, they would sublease them back to NRK/ SVT/YLE – but it’s not very likely.
May. The FIS is trying to level that competition field somewhat by banning certain expensive perks only the richest teams could afford.
June. World’s best skier keeps his army of fans in suspense by long refusing to sign an agreement with the Norwegian ski federation. Bone of contention is what the triple Olympic/ triple world champion is allowed to advertize and how.
– July. Swedish gambling company becomes top sponsor of the national ski team. Charlotte Kalla is probably unhappy, given her previous statements.
– September. Much talked about ban on flourowaxes starts to take shape.
– September. The International Olympic Committee announces serious team quota trimming for Beijing-2022, that is likely affect best teams in Nordic skiing.
– December. Four leading Russian skiers are skipping the season through pregnancy. Swedish Expressen smells the opportunity for creating a tempest in a teacup