By Theresa Fugger
On Sunday, the fastest Vasaloppet since the first edition in 1922 took place in Sweden, and it also resulted in a new German record.
Thomas Bing did his debut in Vasaloppet, representing the German Pro Team, Team Zipps. Bing managed to finish in 11th place with a time of 3:30:10.
On Tuesday after Vasaloppet, he was on his way to the hospital when we called him for an interview.
You are on your way to the hospital for a planned surgery. Tell us more about it.
“I broke my leg two years ago and received an intramedullary nail, basically a metal rod that runs in the medullary canal. They will remove it during surgery.”
Obviously, this has not negatively affected your participation in Vasaloppet.
“I even think the opposite. Because of the broken leg, I had to train much more double poling than usual throughout the past two years, which prepared me perfectly for Vasaloppet.”
Usually, we see you starting in World Cup races for the German National Team. How come you now started at Vasaloppet for Team Zipps?
“Originally, my main goal was to start at the Nordic World Championships in Oberstdorf at the 50 km race the same day as Vasaloppet. Unfortunately, I received only one chance to start in the sprint, and the spots for the 50km race were distributed to other German athletes. Together with the team and the national coach, Peter Schlickenrieder, we decided to contact Team Zipps in order to get a start spot at Vasaloppet. I thought about this race before but had my focus first on the World Championships. All was organized within one day.”
Was Vasaloppet your first long-distance skiing event? How did you experience it?
“I had already participated in Toblach-Cortina, but this was before it was part of Visma Ski Classics, but no event with 90 km.
With Vasaloppet, you always hear those horror stories, half a meter of fresh snow or getting completely wet while skiing through puddles. I was spared that, and for me, it was perfect conditions. The track was hard, the pace was good, which made it relatively easy for me to stay within the group.
There are a few Germans that have been successful at Vasaloppet in the past. Gert-Dietmar Klause had started for the DDR and won Vasaloppet back in 1975. Jochen Behle was 4th in 2000. Since the start of Visma Ski Classics, Thomas Freimuth from the German Pro Team xc-ski.de AIN Skimarathon Team held the record of best German skier at Vasaloppet with a 17th rank and a time of 3:45:16. Now Thomas Bing took the reign with the 11th rank and a time of 3:30:10.
Thomas Bing (144) passes Evertsberg halfway into Vasaloppet in the big group.
How does it feel to be the best German at Vasaloppet?
“I honestly didn’t even realize that in the beginning. I hadn’t looked into it and didn’t know anything about it until I was told sometime after the race. It, of course, feels great, but in general, I’m happy that my training plan turned out to be a success. It’s more important for me that I was able to keep up with the absolute top skiers than that I am a record holder.
On TV we saw that you were involved in some falls. How did this affect your result?
“The first accident where Max Novak was involved didn’t really affect me, I think. In general, there were some more falls happening throughout the race, especially when we caught up to a female group. Luckily, I managed to get around them quite well. That I fell on the final stretch when I had the chance to fight for the 5th place was, of course, very unfortunate, and I was definitely not happy about it at first. It was solely my own mistake as I got stuck with fresh snow when changing tracks. It makes, of course, a difference if it’s a top 10 place or the 11th, but in the end, it does not really say anything about the overall performance. I am happy with what I have achieved.”
Did you get a taste of racing long distance events now?
“I’m definitely a fan of it and was already before. It was a lot of fun to race Vasaloppet, and if the calendar allows, racing longer distances is a welcoming diversification to the usual World Cup races. Still, I’m earning my money with the World Cup and will focus for now on the Olympic Games next year.”
Melina Schöttes from the same Visma Ski Classics Pro Team, Team Zipps, also managed to beat the best result of a German woman at Vasaloppet with a time of 4:34:46. The previous record of 4:47:51 was set by Constanze Blum exactly 20 years ago in 2001.