— In front of 12,000 spectators in Sunne, Sweden, on Sunday night, Petter Northug (NOR) and Charlotte Kalla (SWE) won their respective competitions at the Inge Bråten Memorial rollerski race, a 1.5 k sprint through the town streets. Both victors said in their post-race interviews that they trained straight through the race, both having put in three additional hours on Sunday morning.
“I have trained three and a half hours this morning in Lillehammer!” Northug said, “but I’m very happy with the race today.”
Langrenn is calling the performance Northug’s “competitive comeback” following his break from racing due to illness in February.
Norway swept the men’s podium, with rollerski champion Ragnar Bragvin Andresen taking second and his teammate Tord Asle Gjerdalen third. Sweski reported that the Swedish favorites were eliminated before reaching the finals; Marcus Hellner was bumped in the quarterfinals, beaten by Anton Hedlund. Theodore Peterson went out in the semifinals and Emil Jönsson got dropped when he lost his pole tips.
Kalla bested teammate Ida Ingemarsdotter (SWE) and surprise 18-year-old skier Maja Dahlqvist (SWE) in the women’s race. Sandra Hansson and Anna Haag took fourth and fifth, respectively.
— Pierre Mignerey took over as the Cross Country Race Director at the International Ski Federation (FIS) this summer. Mignerey has been the head coach of the French ski team and most recently was the FIS Assistant Race Director. In an interview with Dauphi Nordique this June, which is well worth a read in its entirety, Mignerey discussed the coming season, the Tour de Ski, city sprints, health & safety for wax techs and his overall plans as director.
The future of city sprints is “not in danger,” Mignerey said, though the format is under review this coming winter. He also said the TdS will probably never make a stop in, say, France because it must go through Germany, where TV viewership is high, and “we can like it or not but today a high-level sport cannot live without television. Without substantial television coverage in Germany, Cross-Country skiing, like most winter sports, would get in great difficulties and even probably perish in short term.”
On the topic of TV as the bottom line, Mignerey added that one of the biggest concerns at FIS right now is the proportion of TV viewership claimed by Poland, which has largely been attributable to the success of Justyna Kowalczyk. FIS has already started to think about what might happen when Kowalczyk retires.
“You have to know that for three years, the biggest audience has been in Poland because of the brilliant results of Justyna Kowalczyk. If she stops competing, there will inevitably be a decline… Eight or nine of the most watched races of the last season were the ladies’ races, only because of the results of one athlete.”
— Johan Olsson (SWE) recently gave an interview with Land.se about working through injury, age (he’s 32) and balancing family life with a ski career. Olsson started off strong last winter with a win at the World Cup season opener in Sjusjoen, Norway, but for the remainder of his season was plagued by illness and injury. Before a recent team training camp in Majorca, Olsson had broken bones to contend with again, this time with a broken rib.
“At my age, it is not as fresh as when it was [at] 20-25,” Olsson said. “It’s just that we have a maze of injuries almost all the time. The trick is to train wisely and clear the damage from the road as soon as possible.”
On the importance of camps in his training, Olsson said they enable him to focus completely on skiing, unlike his home routine where caring for his young daughter makes significant demands on his time. But on the other hand, he continued, family life can be a healthy distraction for an athlete.
“It has given me tremendous joy,” Olsson said. “Both in private life but also the joy of skiing. First, there is no pressure of the demands on themselves in the same way anymore that I must do such and such… You might get a little narrow picture of what you’re doing [at a younger age].”
Read the rest of the (translated) interview here.