Norwegian coach fears the team will have to drop the World Cup race

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– It is an unforeseen, but necessary expense in the situation we are in, states cross-country manager Espen Bjervig.

Cross-country manager Espen Bjervig. Photo: Terje Pedersen

In a month, the World Cup season will start in Ruka, Finland. A rigorous – and expensive – test regime awaits practitioners and support staff. First, the cross-country national team must be able to point to a negative test within 72 hours of arrival in Finland.

Then a new test awaits on Finnish soil. A quick test costs 99 euros, plus 15 euros in a handling fee, according to the organizer’s website.

The total sum corresponds to 1250 kroner at today’s exchange rate. According to Bjervig, the Norwegian squad can consist of a maximum of 42 people, including the support staff. In other words, they can end up with an expense of 52,500 kroner in just one round of quick tests.

– It’s money, that. Undoubtedly. We have to see how much testing there will be. In some places they have test capacity at the airport, and in other places they have private tests. But if the average price is 1000 kroner, it will be large amounts eventually, Bjervig says to TV 2.

– Is this something that creates concern?

– No, so I have the night’s sleep in place. It’s not the economy I’m most worried about. I am most worried that we will be able to get everyone together in good health. That is the main priority, he replies.

More expensive in Lillehammer

Jostein Vinjerui is the coach of the British national cross-country team. They travel with only three people to Ruka. The total sum will therefore be completely different from the Norwegian team.

Jostein Vinjerui is the coach of the British national cross-country team.

Jostein Vinjerui is the coach of the British national cross-country team. Photo: GB Snowsport.

At the same time, the British Ski Association has a completely different budget. Through a long season, where athletes in different disciplines will be sent to the World Cup race, there will be an eerie additional cost in the budget.

– It is money that the ski association does not have in the first place. What I wanted was for us to have a kind of splice team with the organizers and FIS. But I understand that it is a big boost, says Vinjerui to TV 2.

The weekend after Ruka, the World Cup awaits Lillehammer. Possibly even more expensive tests await the troops. Five and a half weeks before the start of the race, it is estimated that the tests will cost around 200 Swiss francs. This corresponds to 2050 kroner.

The British have plans to send a five-man squad there.

– What consequences can the prices have for you?

– It is that you have to find money you basically do not have. In the worst case, we have to cut out races to afford to travel. If we have to start choosing between World Cup races, it’s boring, Vinjerui answers.

However, the Norwegian coach emphasizes that they almost take the grief in advance.

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– As of now, we have not received any signal from the association that there is something we will not achieve. So far we are sitting still in the boat, and nothing to worry about, he thinks.

Will push the price down

Lillehammer Olympiapark AS arranges the World Cup race in the city. The CEO of the company, Per Olav Andersen, says that they are working to push down the test price of 200 Swiss francs.

– I promise one thing, and that is that we will not make money on corona testing. We will make sure to keep the cost as low as possible, and hope that we get well below it, says Andersen, and explains that they had to give an early indication.

As the organizer has understood the guidelines, the Norwegian athletes who have been to Ruka will probably also have to be tested through the organizer. Then another big expense can wait for the Norwegian squad.

As the organizer has understood the guidelines, the Norwegian athletes who have been to Ruka will probably also have to be tested through the organizer. Then another big expense can wait for the Norwegian squad. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum

The reason for the rigid prices is that the organizer must have the capacity for a huge number of tests in a short time. At the same time, there is a requirement for a very fast response time.

– We must have the capacity to take away at least 1000 tests in a very short time. It is an incredibly demanding operation, Andersen points out.

The director explains that they must have double capacity in many stages, partly because they must pick out any person who has a hint of symptoms. And that cost falls on the organizer.

– It is very difficult for us to be part of a splice team. We have 500 employees we must get negative tests from. In addition to those costs, we need to set up a large, additional apparatus to deal with infection control administratively and in practice. We certainly feel that we are taking our share, but I understand the challenge. It is a demanding season, but we have no place to send the extra bill, Andersen explains.

– It is a big, big operation to make it happen. Our goal is that there should be no safer place to be from November 29 to December 7 than Lillehammer, he assures.

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