The Arctic Race of Norway is collaborating with the foundation Idretten Skaper Sjanser

June 4 th 2021 - 18:04

Can 35 drug addicts cycle nearly 700 kilometers in four days? Yes, they can! It will happen during the most beautiful adventure of the summer in the northern part of Norway: Arctic Race of Norway.

“Arctic Race is a fantastic opportunity that makes us visible. We are included, and our athletes, who have their challenges, are regarded as full-fledged participants and members of the sports family," says Morten Nyborg, general manager of Idretten Skaper Sjanser (“sport creates opportunities”).

The foundation offers accessible activity opportunities for people who are on the side of society, people who have made a vital choice: To get out of addiction.

"Our athletes within cycling, cross-country skiing and horse riding are fighting every single day for a better life with friends outside the drug scene. All people have resources, and through our organized trainings addicts get a new identity as an athlete. They experience healthy intoxication through achievement and fellowship. They straighten their backs, literally," says Nyborg.

Frustration turned into pedal power

The 35 cyclists are now pedaling on to be ready for stages of up to 180km in the Arctic Race of Norway at the beginning of August. 

“I love challenges, and I have had great challenges since I was born," says athlete Ole Magnus Hansen Kvernevik, who was part of Fredrikstad's street team in football last winter. Now, he is also part of the cycling group together with his wife Carina. Ole Magnus explains how cycling has changed his everyday life.

“After many miles in the downhill of life, I now get all the frustration and negative thoughts about the past out and into the pedals. Finally, I can enjoy the downhills and push through on the uphill. This has given me a sense of achievement and self-respect. I'm no longer who I used to be, thanks to Idretten Skaper Sjanser.”

At the front with Thor Hushovd

When the start goes for the pro cyclists in Tromsø on 5th of August, the athletes from Idretten Skaper Sjanser will be ahead of them on the route. They will start early in the morning, and ride the same stages as the pros. In four days, the cyclists will cover nearly 700 kilometers. The race ambassador and former professional cyclist Thor Hushovd, who won the first edition of the Arctic Race of Norway in 2013, will ride with Idretten Skaper Sjanser on one of the stages.  

More addicts need to be given training as a tool

General manager Morten Nyborg is happy that the collaboration provides the opportunity to reach a wider audience.

"In Norway, billions of kroners are spent every year on substance abuse rehabilitation and care, but the relapse rate is sky-high – with the costs that implies both for the individual and the wider society. In our athlete groups, we create thousands of drug-free hours, and we see that the integration into the sports community has ripple effects far beyond better fitness and a stronger body. Unfortunately, far too few addicts have an offer of organized training sessions today. We hope that our participation in Arctic Race will stimulate more clubs to open the door to this group of people," says Nyborg.

Health Minister Høie is full of praise for the collaboration between Arctic Race of Norway and Idretten Skaper Sjanser.

“I have followed these athletes for two years now, and I am deeply impressed by the work each individual athlete does and by the foundation Idretten Skaper Sjanser. I am very pleased that many more people at home and abroad will become familiar with this important work when 35 cyclists will now take part in the Arctic Race of Norway," says Minister of Health Bent Høie. He believes it is important that more people have the opportunity to feel pride, fellowship, achievement, and joy through the sport.

"It's not about riding fastest, but about setting goals and working with teammates to push their own boundaries. The value of having a community, movement, and fresh air, we have all felt through the pandemic. The sport's community creates lasting and good ripple effects," says Høie.

Knut-Eirik Dybdal, CEO of Arctic Race of Norway, believes that the collaboration shows the race's vision:

"Our vision is to be more than just a bike race. I therefore find it incredibly gratifying that we can use this race to show how sport can be a tool to get back into society, to a life of good self-esteem. Now we hope to contribute to ensuring that even more people who need it can be included in the large sports family," concludes Dybdal.

Also, Carina Hansen Kvernevik, the wife of Ole Magnus, has found the joy of cycling this spring, and is in hard training for Arctic Race:

"On the bike you gain control over something in life. You have got the control of yourself and it is lovely, so cycling for me is great. Idretten Skaper Sjanser has given me friends who are there to support me no matter what."    

About Idretten Skaper Sjanser

*The foundation Idretten Skaper Sjanser is a low-threshold and accessible activation programme with skiing, cycling, and riding for people struggling with substance abuse challenges.  

*  The goal is to create several drug-free hours, where the athletes through regular training in groups experience community and coping. This increases self-esteem and quality of life and triggers resources in the individual to create an everyday life without intoxication.  

* The association is founded by the Norwegian Ski Federation, the Norwegian Cycle Association, and the Norwegian Equestrian Association, and receives support from the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the

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