Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Charge, is the first male athlete in Visma Ski Classics to win the yellow champion bib three times. An achievement the 31-year-old from northern Norway is proud of.
“I am grateful that I managed it and it means that I had several good seasons and made lots of good races,” says Nygaard a couple of days after the season final in Ylläs-Levi last Saturday.
Andreas Nygaard became the overall winner in Visma Ski Classics in both Season IX, 2018-2019, and Season X, 2019-2020. Last winter was ruined by frostbite on his hands, but in Season XII he was back on top again, a clear overall victory and wins in three of the Grand Classics races: Jizerská, Vasaloppet, and Birken.
You were the first to have three overall victories on the men’s side. How big is it?
“It feels incredibly good to take the yellow bib for the third time. It is not easy to succeed with that. I am grateful that I managed it and it means that I have had several good seasons and made lots of good races,” Nygaard states.
In which races did you have the best feeling this winter?
“I had a very good period from Jizerská to Birken. In some races, when you feel good, and you know you have a good sprint you have a little margin. You don’t need to go all out to get away from the pack. Jizerská was incredibly good and so was Birken. In both races, I felt quite early that I had the form that day. At Vasaloppet it was also good, but it is such a long race, things can always happen. There I didn’t have the early feeling that I had the day.”
Which race was the toughest for you?
“Probably Årefjällsloppet. There it was tough all the way. I secured a good position by having good skis and good teammates. It was hard from the first meters,” says Nygaard who still finished fourth in the race.
Andreas is studying to be a doctor but has had a break from his studies during the winter. In the spring a lot of studies are now waiting for him.
“I will do one more race in ten days but there will be very little training the coming days. If you are a student, spring is a time when you spend a lot of time at school, and I have a lot to catch up on. There will not be much training until June 13 when there is a graduation. Then I have to start the training in front of next season.”
But maybe it’s good with a longer break to recover after a long and tough season?
“Yes, it can be good, but if I could, I wouldn’t have such a long period off. It’s a bit too long, but I think it’s still important to get a real break, maybe a whole month. The best thing would have been to get started in early May.”
What type of workouts do you do this period when you don’t have so much time? Will it be short and hard workouts?
“There will be quite a few days without training during the weeks. The sessions I will do are with some intensity, so I don’t lose too much. I will try to train every other day and do threshold training.”
How far have you come in medical studies?
“I will finish four out of six years. But I must take a break from my studies after this exam. The fifth year is about working all the time and writing a master’s thesis. It’s not possible to combine with my skiing career.”
How far do you see your future as a Pro Team athlete? Do you take one year at a time, or do you look at what Anders Aukland does?
“It will probably be something in between,” says Nygaard and laughs.
“It’s easy to see a future when it has gone as well as it has done now. At the same time, you know what is required. I look forward to five more good seasons. If I get it, I’m very happy.”
Are there any athletes who surprised you this winter?
“Max (Novak) and Emil (Persson) have been incredibly strong this winter, but it was no surprise. We saw how strong Emil was last season, and how strong Max was on rollerskis in the summer.”
“I would say that Eklöfs (Johannes) top level in the hills, and also Kasper (Stadaas) in our team. Kasper has won two races and if he had not become ill in the middle of the season, he could have finished second overall. It has impressed me.”
“I would also say that the whole Team Ramudden with Herman (Paus) also impressed. Especially on the uphills. They pushed from the start and if you are not at the top yourself, they are difficult to follow. They are really skiers for the future.”
Lots of long-distance skiers do really long rollerski sessions of five to six hours during the summer. It doesn’t seem like this is something for you?
“There are many athletes who train both long and extremely well, but I must first and foremost do what has given me good experiences as a skier. If I get a session of three hours a week and a session of four hours a month, I feel that it is good for me,” says Nygaard and continues;
“I think it’s possible for me to train more, but at the same time, it’s not a similarity between more training and better results. You must feel what the body responds to and what gives results. If you win races every season, you do something right, and then maybe you should not change too much even if you want to develop further.”