Petter Northug has 13 World Cup golds, two Olympic golds and two overall World Cup victories. At a press conference earlier this month, he said traditional cross-country skiing is facing a "frightening development".
He now explains to SVT Sport what he meant.
– The audience, and then the obvious that we need more practitioners and nations at the top. There has been a lot of Norwegian dominance, especially on the men's side. Obviously, it's not good for the sport in the long run," he said.
"Of course the audience fails"
He also believes that the audience issue is a challenge, and that the World Championships in Planica, together with some stages of the Tour de Ski have not been any successes.
– And of course the audience disappoints when the product is not exciting, as it has been in recent years.
"You have a job to do and you have things to work with within FIS (the International Ski Federation) if you want to achieve the popularity that existed if you go back ten years.
Why has it turned out this way, do you think?
"It probably has to do with the fact that Norway continues to invest heavily and has good practitioners who have flourished in recent years. Other nations have to do the work to take up the fight with Norway, especially on the men's side.
Council: "Would benefit from cooperation"
Last winter, Northug made a comeback when he ran Ski Classics. The long-distance race cup is a strong contender for the World Cup, he believes.
"I think the long-distance cup has become popular because many people think it's exciting to watch races that you yourself are a part of, and be part of a big context, where the World Cup becomes very small. It's an advantage for Ski Classics, it's very inclusive.
Do you think Ski Classics will take over?
"I don't think it will take over, but I think the ski family is so small that you would benefit from working together.