By Johan Trygg
Stian Hoelgaard is one of the profiles in Visma Ski Classics. However, still without a victory in the Pro Tour.
Now the 29-year-old humble Norwegian is preparing to climb to the top of the podium for the first time in a Visma Ski Classics race, in his new Swedish Pro Team - Team Curira.
"It has been very positive to get to know my new Swedish teammates. Everyone is very nice and I'm already looking forward to our next training camp," says Hoelgaard.
Hoelgaard is the Vasaloppet specialist who was on the podium five years in a row between 2016-2020 and 2020 stumbled close to winning when Petter Eliassen passed him just before the finish line.
In Season XI, Vasaloppet was not a success for Hoelgaard, he finished 38th, but the season finale Årefjällsloppet saved the season when he sprinted into second place behind Andreas Nygaard.
Shortly after the end of the season, it was clear that Hoelgaard would leave the Norwegian Pro Team, Team Koteng and it soon turned out that it was Swedish Team Curira who contracted the strong Norwegian.
Hoelgaard has twelve podium places in the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour (the first was third place at Marcialonga 2016) but still lacks the moment to step on top of the podium. Maybe he will succeed next winter in his new Swedish team.
We meet Hoelgaard during Team Curira's training camp at Halmstad golfarena i the south of Sweden a few days after the Challengers roller ski race Båstad - Mölle (where Hoelgaard won).
How has it been to come to Sweden and train with new teammates?
"It has been very good. A new place and new people, so it has been exciting days and the week has gone by fast," says Hoelgaard and continues;
"We have trained hard and at the same time got to know each other well in the team. It has been very positive to get to know my new Swedish teammates. Everyone is very nice and I am already looking forward to our next training camp."
Has it been something different compared to a training camp in Norway?
"That's probably the language then," says Stian and laughs and continues;
"No, it's quite similar to what I am used to."
Stian Hoelgaard, to the right, with his new teammates in Team Curira.
How did it feel to put on a bib again at Båstad - Mölle?
"It felt like I was not really prepared for a race. At the same time, it's good to get started. Årefjällsloppet (March 27) was the last time I did a hard and long. So it was pretty brutal in the heat. However, it would have been almost impossible to do something similar in a workout by myself. It's so much easier with a bib on your shoulder and competitors around you.
The race was on roller skis with resistance 3. What do you think about that?
"I think it was good. In the winter, there is variation in the conditions during different races. Sometimes it's high speed and sometimes it's a little bit slower. So it is good to vary the resistance on roller ski races as well."
What do you say about training in the Halmstad area?
"There are splendid surroundings to train here in Halmstad. There are endless great roads to explore. It has been excellent."
Team Curira 21/22:
Johan Kask, Pro Team Director
Emma Dahlgren, Coach