Norwegian skiing star Petter Northug has been testing out his equipment options heading into this World Championships season. Last weekend at Toppidretsvekka, Northug could be seen sporting the latest boots from Alpina, a change from the Fischer boots he has used in recent seasons. Northug's ski and boot contract with Fischer ran out after last season, and he is now free to choose which brand he will use this coming season. While he will likely stay with Fischer skis, it is possible that he will make the switch back to Alpina boots, which he had used previous to the 2014 Olympics. "For us it is crucial that Petter has access to the best equipment for him" says Northug's manager Are Sørum Langås. "The value of the agreements we have with equipment does not matter. He will choose the boots, poles and skis that best suits him".
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The FIS Worldloppet season finally got underway on Sunday, with the The Kangaroo Hoppet celebrating it's 26th edition at Falls Creek, Australia. Over 1,000 skiers from 27 countries contested the event, which is seen as the celebration of Australian cross-country skiing. Cold overnight temperature and overcast skies produced fast tracks that were perfect for all competitors as they made their way around two loops of the stunning Bogong High Plains loop. The premier elite 42 km event was fiercely contested this year, with several international skiers vying for honours against a strong domestic field. At the finish it was the US who topped the men’s and women’s events, which was reminiscent of the first Kangaroo Hoppet in 1991. Matt Gelso of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation won the men's event after a closely contested pack race from local skiers Phil Bellingham and Nick Montgomery. Gelso broke Montgomery’s contact with the leaders after working hard into the wind across the Bogong High Plains, and later was able to get a small break on Bellingham on the final descent from Heathy Spur to secure the win. The women’s event was even closer, with U.S. Sun Valley teammates Deedra Irwin and Mary Rose ensuring the sweep for North America. Irwin and Rose skied the full 42 km together, with neither skier able to make a decisive break for victory. While Rose was able to make some small breaks on some of the hills it was a strong sprint finish from Irwin that gave her a narrow victory over her teammate. Aimee Watson skied a strong and consistent race to claim third place as the top Australian after skiing much of the race on her own.
The second day of the French National Rollerski Champhionships brought a skate prologue in Autrans, and it was Marion Buillet and Adrien Backscheider who came out on top among a strong field. Backscheider held a strong pace throughout the race and finished in a time of 8:34, just one second ahead of teammate Valentin Chauvin. Third place was taken by U23 sprinter and former World Junior Champion Jean Tiberghien, while well known distance racers Robin Duvillard and Maurice Manificat finished 4th and 5th at 9 and 13 seconds behind. On the women's side, Marion Buillet showed her speed and skied to a strong victory, winning by 7 seconds ahead of Leah Damiani , with Constance Vulliet another three seconds back in third.
The allegations surrounding the Norwegian Ski Federation's widespread use of asthma medication has hit the Norwegian sports scene like a bomb this summer. But one person who might not be so surprised is Justyna Kowalczyk. For years the Polish star has publicly questioned the Norwegian's use of asthma medications, in particular during her rivalry with Marit Bjoergen, despite receiving criticism and dismissal from many people in the sport. The recent developments have won Kowalczyk more understanding from the public, and now add more weight to her past comments. On Friday she reiterated he feelings on the issue in a post on her Facebook page. "It is high time that we stop hiding behind the secrecy of the doctors, and publish who receives what kinds of medications and for what diseases. And also... I dream that the secrecy is removed and that we finally see how they (the Norwegians) diagnoses this asthma" she says.