Anikken Gjerde Alnæs, the Norwegian athlete who races for Team Ragde Charge, has just conquered a podium place at Lysebotn Opp double poling race. ProXCskiing talked to the Pro Tour athlete to know what this performance meant and how it motivated her for the coming season.
Anikken Gjerde Alnæs is one of the strongest women competing in the Ski Classics circuit. Having finished top 20 in all the races she participated in last season and being one of the top contenders for the Sprint bib, Anikken is still improving every winter.
The proof that Anikken is getting stronger is her performance at Lysebotn Opp double poling race, conquering the 3rd place, just behind Astrid Øyre Slind and Emilie Fleten.
With her team’s support, the Norwegian athlete is now in good form to achieve her goal of conquering the green bib – and the podium.
Congratulations on your results at Lysebotn Opp double poling. How would you describe that race? Compared to the Ski Classics events, how do you feel racing it?
“Thank you! Hah, it’s frightening and joyful, and I can’t compare it to any race on the Ski Classics circuit. The closest is the final climb of the Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge. I have raced the skate race since I was a junior, and I prefer the double poling version, to have that said.”
“On paper, I’m not the leading candidate for the podium, but after all, it suits me well. I’ve performed well in climbs on rollerskis, and I still must figure out how to transition to snow. It all comes down to who’s the strongest and who got the best shape of the day. Astrid was in her own league that day.”
You have developed your double poling capacity over the last seasons. What are your expectations for Ski Classics Season XIV?
“I’m working to be sufficient on snow and handle different types of conditions. Getting adjusted to the hours and building a strong body has been the main priority since I chose to focus on long-distance. I have yet to get on the podium in a Ski Classics race. I’m constantly chasing it in my daily training.”
How has been your summer training? What have you been doing, and where have you been training?
“I got a late start to the training season due to illness and Covid, like so many other skiers. As I got back to it, I enjoyed the summer training. I spent almost three weeks in altitude at a small hotel in the mountains of Andorra at 2400 altitude meters with my boyfriend and his (cycling) team Israel Premier Tech. I focused on having fun and enjoying every day of training. I feel fully charged and motivated for the fall training.”
What were your best and not-so-good moments last season?
“My worst moment last season was standing on the sideline of Vasaloppet watching everyone pass by, knowing how hard I worked for that one day of the season.”
“The best moment, at least the one I will remember for the rest of my life, is Britta’s true sportsmanship at the sprint in Levi. I attacked in the downhill before Britta closed the gap and told me she would do a lead-out for me because I deserved it. She kept the pace up and stepped aside before the line. After so many fights for the green points, she knew how hard I worked for the points.”
You were a teammate of Marit Bjørgen. Do you feel that this has been good for you?
“Marit is for sure one of the best skiers of all time. I admire her focus, attitude, and humanity. It’s been an inspiration to be her teammate and train with her in Sørkedalen.”
Is the national team still a possibility for you? Or are you focusing just on long-distance races?
“It’s all about skiing fast and performing well. I believe I still have something to offer to the national team as a sprinter, but my training and race plan mainly concerns how to develop as a long-distance skier. If I feel like starting at a national sprint, I will. However, I’m not chasing the dream about the national team as I did when I was a kid.”
Finally, what are your goals for next season?
“I will always love a good fight for the sprint points, and it was bittersweet ending 2nd in the sprint competition last season. As long I’m in position, I will collect as many points as possible for the team and the green bib. The chase for the podium is in the back of my mind as the next goal ahead.”
As always, Anikken replied to our questions with her characteristic sympathy. After two seasons devoted to long-distance skiing and with the support of her teammates – some of the world’s best long-distance skiers – she has been getting stronger and stronger every season.
With such a strong performance at Lysebotn Opp double poling race, she feels ready to enter fall training mode – and find the shape that will help her achieve her goals: the green bib and a place on the podium.
Photo: Marcus Liebold