Johannes Eklöf took his first win in the Pro Tour last season at Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge. He also wore the lumberjack bib for a couple of races and finished 2nd in the Climb competition, only 59 points behind Tord Asle Gjerdalen.
The Team Ramudden skier finished 5th in the Champion competition and is currently 8th on the SC Ranking. Another season highlight was his 3rd place at the Grand Classics Jizerská50.
ProXCskiing talked with Johannes Eklöf about training, changes at Team Ramudden, and his goals in front of Season XIV.
Let’s talk a bit about your training. Can you tell us about your favorite training session?
“Intervals are my favorite in all forms, 8 times 4 minutes running in the forest, 10 times 3 minutes on the treadmill, or 8 times 3 minutes rollerskiing on a sprint-like course in high intensity or 5 times 5 minutes on the rollerskiing-treadmill, are all some nice sessions.”
So, are you using the rollerski treadmill a lot? If so, why do you prefer that rather than rollerskiing?
“I rollerski on the treadmill quite often. It is easy to compare progress since the conditions are always the same. You can also really push yourself right at the limit on a treadmill. Not to mention that you can ski in exactly the hill you want or avoid bad weather outside.”
Do you also enjoy biking or running for training? Did you also keep some skating in your training?
“Yeah, I try to run a lot. It’s such an easy way to train, just put on your shoes and go out. I have not skated quite as much as in previous years this year, but I’ve tried to keep it since it is what I’ve been best at before, and therefore I believe it is training that suits me.”
Is there a place for mental training in your preparation?
“It has not been a focus of mine. I have had a hard time finding the time for it between everything I want to or must do.”
What is the most significant change in Team Ramudden compared to last year?
“I would say the biggest change is that Lina Korsgren now shares the leading role with Gustaf. I think they complete each other very well in their roles. We also have a team on the men’s side that is stronger than ever, with four really even skiers that hopefully can help each other win races much more than before.”
According to you, what is the biggest strength of Team Ramudden?
“The will to always improve and find new ways to do things. It also shows that Lina and Gustaf have put their trust in new young skiers through the years. And as a skier in Team Ramudden, you also feel that you deserve to live and eat well between the races, and this gives you a feeling that your performance matters and is worth a lot to the team.”
Do you usually have a Team strategy for the races?
“We have often discussed different scenarios, and sometimes we have one strategy that we have decided beforehand, and other times we have several strategies to choose from depending on how the race develops.”
Talking about races, if you had to choose only one race on the Pro Tour, which one would it be?
“Marcialonga, both because of the history of the race, the great atmosphere around it with all the people cheering and having a good time, and because it is a demanding course with a finish that should suit me well.”
So, what is your favorite type of course?
“I like a course that takes around 2-3 hours with many long climbs. My biggest strength is in the long climbs, for sure.”
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As your most significant strength is on the climbs, will the lumberjack bib be your main goal? And who do you think will be your main rival for it?
“Magnus Vesterheim has been strong this summer and is a good climber. Otherwise, the climb experts from last years, Gjerdalen and Eide Pedersen could be considered some of the favorites.”
You took your first win last season; does it change something for you?
“I feel that I can take more chances in the races. I also feel more confident that I can create things on my own. So, I want to be more offensive in the races this winter. I have also tried using it in my summer training once I began questioning myself.”
What are you doing when you are not skiing or training? Are you also studying?
“I am studying in my last year to become an engineer in technical physics, and right now, I am doing my Master’s thesis on the defense company Saab. Besides that, I try to spend as much time as possible with my girlfriend, who lives in Stockholm. And if I have some time left after that, I try to meet with family and friends as well.”
Do you have a favorite streaming series or a movie to recommend?
“The last movie I saw was King Richard, a really good telling of the completely crazy story of the making of Serena and Venus Williams.”
If you had a piece of advice to give to young athletes, what would it be?
“Ask yourself and your surroundings why you do the training sessions you do. It is always easier to do things in a dedicated manner if you know why you do them. And also, don’t stop following your dreams too early.”