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“Cross-country skiing should copy Formula 1”

Cross-country skiing must renew itself to survive. A new study from NTNU highlights three small steps inspired by Formula 1 that will make a big difference.

Photo: Thibaut/NordicFocus

“Cross-country skiing should copy Formula 1 to increase interest,” says a study from NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology that has just been released. 

Many believe traditional cross-country skiing has become boring and predictable, interest and viewing figures are falling, and the sport needs help to get new athletes. The study that has just been released highlights several elements from Formula 1 that will help make cross-country skiing more attractive to TV audiences. 

Behind the study, students from NTNU in Trondheim, the same place where the next World Championships will be held in 2025. 

The study highlights three steps that will make cross-country skiing more interesting and attractive to TV viewers and help increase interest in cross-country skiing among younger people, who are an important target group for cross-country skiing. 

Three small steps with a significant effect

The study points to three small steps that will make a big difference, inspired by Formula 1.

The first is to follow the position: a form of radar that indicates the position of the cross-country skiers on the screen so that the viewers always know where on the course the athletes are. 

The second concerns sprint competitions. Here, it is proposed to insert a virtual line on the screen in the quarter- and semi-finals so that the viewers can follow along to see if the field is ready to knock out those who are lucky losers. This way, viewers can see whether their favorites will move on to the following heats.  

The third step is to introduce “shadow technology,” i.e., a virtual silhouette on the screen of the skier leading the race or another skier. At the same time, you see the skier(s) who are on the course. It will give the viewers a way to compare the two and decide whether there is any hope of catching up with the leader.

The article continues below.

The study from NTNU suggests inserting a virtual line on the screen to make it easier to understand how the field is laid out, for example, in sprints.

Well received by NRK 

NRK, which will produce the broadcasts from the World Championships in Trondheim 2025, is optimistic about the input and will change how they convey cross-country skiing on TV. It came to light after a recent meeting between the students and NRK, where the students presented their ideas. 

Specifically, NRK will work on how to get closer to the athletes and make the content better with the help of technology.

“These are fascinating ideas. We listened to the students with interest and are very grateful for any input that can help make our broadcasts more accessible. We will continue to investigate the possibility of including it in our broadcasts,” says Fredriksen, the NRK project manager for the World Ski Championships 2025, in a press release.

Are you interested in traditional cross-country skiing? Click here and read more.

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