By Johan Trygg
After winning the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour five years in a row, last season didn't turn out the way Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, had imagined.
After her frostbites at Engadin La Diagonela in mid-January, she was away from competing for a month. Back in competition, she was not quite at the level we are used to seeing her.
Now, however, the 38-year-old is well underway with training ahead of Season XII.
"I'm so motivated to do the job required," says Johansson Norgren.
Season XI could have been the last in the long and successful career for Britta Johansson Norgren. But quitting after a season where she couldn't perform the way she wanted does not suit Britta.
How quickly did you decide to continue?
"The idea was that it would be the last season, but I quickly felt that I didn't want to end like this. In November, I felt that I was in a good position when we competed in Orsa Grönklitt and the ski tunnel in Torsby. Then when I saw how strong the Ramudden girls were during the season, I understood that I had been on the right track, says Britta and continues;
"Then I could perform pretty well when I came back even though I was not in the best shape. Now I want to give it another chance and above all, I am so motivated to do the job required."
For an athlete who dominated the Pro Tour for five consecutive years as the overall winner, this past winter offered other experiences.
"Last winter was special. I have had setbacks before, been ill, injured and worn out but still always been able to start and perform at a good level. Last winter, I had problems with my feet, shoulders and neck. My body reacted various ways from top to toe after the frostbite. Sometimes I crossed a line and could only sleep for three hours during the middle of the day. It didn't feel good at times."
"I have been used to that everything just keeps rolling on. Seeing others compete and sitting at home felt sad."
Back in racing, Britta performed well but didn't reach the podium. Her best result was the fourth place at Tåssåsen Criterium 64 where Team Ramudden's Ida Dahl passed her in the final stretch.
Now Britta is entering a new season in a new situation where she is no longer the big favorite.
"I have had pressure on me to perform and win all the time before. Now I can be more of an underdog. It feels kind of nice to start over," says Britta and adds;
"I have received a lot of support. Many have told me that it's so fun that I'm back."
How has the start of the new training season been?
"It has gone well. I have trained more than I usually do this time of year. I have had some problems with my pelvis and back, but I am happy with the job I have done so far."
You have new teammates with Thea Krokan Murud and Hanna Falk!
"It feels great. We have been a good team before, but now there will be big changes with lots of new athletes in the team."
"Both Thea and Hanna are good and nice people, and they are tough when it comes to training. It is evolving to have them with you at training camps. Thea showed good results at the end of the season and Hanna seems to be able to make the transition to long distance skiing well," says Britta.
With two strong teammates, Britta is looking forward to challenging Team Ramudden with the trio Lina Korsgren, Ida Dahl, and Jenny Larsson, who dominated during Season XI.
"I think we will see more team tactics in the women's field than before."
Back to your training. Are you making any changes?
"It looks a little different. I know what has worked before, but I plan to train a little more than I usually do in the summer. The plan is to be at a higher level in September than I usually am."
"I think this is where I have the most to pick up. I have been quite low in quantity compared to many others in the summertime."
Britta's plan is also to do a few more tough workouts at home in Östersund with her teammates Emil Persson and Eddie Edström and not just train with the guys at training camps.
What do you say about the Season XII Pro Tour calendar?
"I like that there are a lot of events. We are trained to handle it."
Will you prioritize some races?
"The plan is to attend every race, but of course, the big races are more important. It will be fun with the back-to-back weekends and that we get to see some new places. I look forward to Tartu Ski Maraton and it is, of course, fun that we start the season in Orsa Grönklitt.
May we see you at some roller ski events this summer?
"Yes, the plan is that we race three weekends in a row; Hitra in Norway, Alliansloppet in Trollhättan and Tanumsloppet in Sweden."