How much does it actually cost to prepare an Olympic champion? We talk to the man in the know

Markus Cramer needs no introduction.
A “doyen du corps” of the international cross country skiing coaches ” guild”, the German specialist had a great career spanning decades with different national teams, Olympic gold medals under his belt and is currently at his 6th Winter Olympic Games. Who would be better placed to talk about the simple yet complicated for many question:

How much does it cost to prepare an athlete who has a chance to win medal at the Olympics?

“… Ah, it depends on many, many factors, of course, smiles Marcus, – but if you want to be serious and count everything – a minimum 150.000 euros needs to be budgeted. Per person, per season.

To win, to have a realistic chance at the Olympic gold, an athlete absolutely needs genetic talent and right youth training regimen , first and foremost – but the price tag of honing her or his skills raises to at least 200k per season.

For the 4 Year cycle between the Olympics it comes to at least 600-700k euros.

That’s including everything: coaching, doctor, physio, travel, training camps etc. etc. The skis, boots and poles at this level are nearly always supplied by technical sponsors so not counted here.

Would it include flying private jets? Not, that would come on top. But best equipment, best places to train and best specialists cost money.

Flying private, especially these days, is an excellent idea – but you won’t be able to afford it with your prize money. You need a deep-pocketed sponsor or a friend with a private jet to be able to pull it.

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In cross country skiing you only become a millionaire if you win and win consistently. There are only a few true euro-millionaires in xcskiing.

Norway has more money than anyone else in xcskiing but of course it’s one of their top sports and even part of the culture down there. Norway is a rich country and top skiers often find sponsorships even in relatively small places. Switzerland is also rich and snowy, but the national sport is Alpine skiing. Dario Cologna was fantastic, his 4 gold Olympic medal helped hugely to bring more money to the Swiss xcskiing, the budget grew up more than trice – but I’m afraid the money would dry out once he retires ( NB Cramer coached Cologna in the past).

In Norway some, quite a few athletes take out bank loans to advance their careers in hope of paying back once they struck gold on ski tracks. It’s risky but I hear it worked out for some.

Money determine a lot if you want to fight for top podiums.In continental Europe ski federation aren’t exactly poor, but they don’t have the sort of money we are talking about here. And that, in turn, seriously hampers their chances of ever producing Olympic champions – that’s a reality.”

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