Swedish reactions to the alarm from Norwegian skiing

VAL SENALES. Shocking figures from Norwegian skiing show a widespread problem with eating disorders among former female national team skiers.

The review also provokes strong reactions in Sweden.

– I have heard such stories from when my mother was working. It was not good then, says Frida Karlsson.

It is the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet which in recent weeks has come up with alarming reviews about cross-country skiing and eating disorders among women. Above all, it is based on how it was before.

In a comprehensive survey, they have reached out to 31 female skiers who represented Norway, at both junior and senior level, during the years 1978–1986 and received several astonishing answers.

In total, 35 percent of those surveyed said that they suffered from eating disorders during their careers.

Several former national team skiers testify about a culture of silence, weight, ignorance and how they more or less starved themselves to such an extent that life was in danger.

– It is of course very sad to hear. So, I’ve heard such stories from when my mother was working. It was not good then, but I do not feel that is the situation now. But now it feels like we have a good job with dietitians and dieticians. We have very good knowledge and everyone does what is optimal for sports. That’s how I experience it. Not that it is a taboo either, he says Frida Karlsson.

“Hidden away food”

Charlotte Kalla has been with the world elite for a long time but is surprised when she hears about the report – but also feels that there is a type of safety net nowadays.

– It was quite a long time ago … It is people who have struggled with different things and including food. I have been active for quite a few years. It is a balancing act to be an elite athlete, but at the same time we have a huge support system around us to deal with such things.

More modern skiers as Marthe Kristoffersen, 32 years old today, have told VG that she saw “People who hid food, just peeled it or put a napkin over it” and that she herself was affected.

– It has come up on the wallpaper again here now again that there are many who have problems with it. It is difficult. I do not know how to get away from it. It is a distance sport we are doing that requires light bodies, then it becomes a difficult question how to deal with it, says Calle Halfvarsson.

Have you yourself been involved and seen people hiding food?

– I think it feels like everyone eats as much as possible. You need energy, as much as we train. It is not possible to starve yourself when you have to train really hard. I have not seen it, but I know the problems are there. If they sneak in with it, I have not seen it.

Is three kilos plus in the summer

Jens Burman is as appalled as his teammates about what has emerged in Norway, but also believes that the problem is more widespread than just in cross-country skiing.

– It’s awful that it should be like that. It’s not something you wish on anyone, that you should get so bad at it. But unfortunately it is the case in endurance sports that some people fall there and it is a disease you end up in. I think it is more common than you find out, I still think so. But it’s not just cross-country skiing I can imagine, I imagine all fitness sports such as running and cycling. It is the laws of physics that one should not be too heavy either. That’s how it is. You do not want to drag on extra pounds.

How do you work with that bit to optimize weight, but still not end up wrong?

– I do so that during the summer and spring I do not think so much about it at all. I eat what I want and do not think about weight. Then I can rather be three kilos plus, but then when I start on the Olympic five-mile then I want my optimal weight that day. But I know it’s tough to make sure it’s that weight. It’s nothing I’m going to do all year.

Sounds like a lot of personal responsibility?

– We have a support system, but it is absolutely our own responsibility as well. The biggest is probably your own responsibility, but you need help to do it the right way. So it does not go wrong. There are probably many who fall for the idea that you can become as easy as you like. The easier you get, the better. That is absolutely not the case.

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Swedish reactions to the alarm from Norwegian skiing