‘Hype train’ gathers speed as Skipper and Blu raise the stakes

It might be staged (up to a point at least) but we still love it, and Joe Skipper and Kristian Blummenfelt raised the ‘hype train’ stakes again on Thursday.

If you haven’t seen the fun and games between the pair this week, where have you been? We’re here to recap and update, adding in the latest content drop.

Recently Skipper said in a media interview that he wasn’t buying into the Norwegian hype ahead of the 2021 IRONMAN World Championship in St George on May 7. That clearly got the attention of Blummenfelt and his compatriot Gustav Iden.

The Norwegian Hype Train

They released a YouTube video early this week, on the back of Skipper’s fourth at IRONMAN South Africa, trolling the Brit during a training session at altitude in Sierra Nevada. The title of the video, if you haven’t guessed already, was ‘Norwegian Hype Train’.

YouTube video

Skipper, despite that disappointing result in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, showed the sense of humour was still there by joking that he DID believe the South African hype after their 1-2-3.

We had another subplot to add to the mix Wednesday when the organisers of Sub7Sub8 dropped a video with Alistair Brownlee – Blummenfelt’s rival in that bid in Germany in June – feigning disinterest at the Norwegian’s performance at IRONMAN Cozumel.

So to Thursday, and another instalment in the daily soap opera. Another Sub7Sub8 video – this time raising the stakes in that Blummenfelt vs Skipper narrative.

Skipper: We wanna destroy them

Joe appears on the video, saying he is very much Team Alistair and wants to see the Norwegians beaten, and beaten badly. To put it mildly.

“I wanna destroy their team, I’m really up for it. I’ve already messaged Alistair and I’ve said: ‘Alistair, you need to make sure you’re on top form for this because I wanna destroy them and you need to make sure you’re at 100 percent for this’. And he said yeah, he’s gonna do it.

“We want it more than them and we’re gonna make it happen.”

At this stage the camera crew clearly start laughing, but Joe – with a big smile on his face – reinforces the point.

“Honestly, that is not even an understatement, we wanna f***ing destroy them.”

The video then shows Blummenfelt sat with a mobile phone in his hand, watching Skipper’s comments. His response at the end when it arrives is the perfect sign-off.

“But who is this guy? It says Joe something in the headline.”

Rivalries sell

So there is an element of these athletes just having fun, but the response on social media this week proves that rivalry – staged or not – can have a major impact on promoting events.

The way athletes act and talk in the lead-up to an event hardens public opinion one way or the other. And that likely leads to increased interest.

It’s easy to forget that Floyd Mayweather Jr didn’t make billions in a boxing ring just because he was a great fighter. A significant portion of those PPV buys came from people who wanted to see him get his clock rung.

Being outspoken, sometimes being the bad guy – it can work to everybody’s advantage. Done right this will be a huge positive for the sport of triathlon.

The hype train is absolutely gathering speed. We are absolutely on board, next stops St George and Germany…

Jonathan Turner
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Jonathan is Editorial Director for TRI247 and RUN247. He was previously Head of Digital / Comms for pro cycling's Team Sky and now spends as much time as he can running with his local club. Swimming is not yet on the radar.