Written By André Santos
Stian Hoelgaard, 28, started his Visma Ski Classics career in 2013, and he managed to be among the 50 best skiers in several races that season. In 2014, he showed everyone that he is truly a Vasaloppet skier as he finished 8th. In 2015, Marcialonga’s 9th place was his best result, but the year 2016 was his breakthrough. That season, he was on the podium twice, at Vasaloppet, 2nd, and Marcialonga 3rd, and finished in the top 10 two other times. Ever since, he has been a constant force in Visma Ski Classics with his 11 podium places. He has been on the Vasaloppet podium an amazing five consecutive years but still has no victory. Additionally, he has not yet won a Visma Ski Classics stage.
Over the last seasons, you have been a very solid skier, and in the current season you are ranked 3rd overall. How do you feel about your personal results, and your team results?
- I had a good overall season this year. I managed to be in good shape the whole season with a peak at Vasaloppet. My big goal was to win a race and I didn't manage to do that, so I am a little bit disappointed about that.
You have been learning with great long-distance skiers from the start of your Visma Ski Classics career. For instance, with Team LeasePlan Go you had Thomas Alsgaard and Petter Eliassen and then on Team Koteng you had John Kristian Dahl. How do you think they contributed to your development into the strong skier you are today?
- All the skiers and staff I have been with in my teams for the past years have shaped me to the skier I am today. I have always been my own coach, but we discuss and learn a lot from each other. Long distance skiing as a high-level sport is relatively new. Therefore, I think that the athletes have a lot of knowledge. I have always tried to take the best from everyone and mix it together and make it my own philosophy. I have things that I do in my training and competition style that I learned from both Eliassen, Alsgaard and Dahl.
You have done something unique at Vasaloppet. You have been top 3 for the last 5 editions, and you are still young. Do you think you have to work on something specific to finally get the first place?
- I have found a good recipe to get in my best shape for Vasaloppet. That has always been the biggest goal for me. I don’t think I need to do anything extraordinary to win. The past 5 years I have been good, but not good enough to win. Like everyone else I need to get a better stamina and a better finish.
How important is strength training for you and what tips can you give to fans?
- Strength training has always been an important part of my training. I think it is important especially for younger athletes. When you reach a certain age and level, I think you have to prioritize and look at your strengths and weaknesses. This year, I have not actually done any strength training. I was not sure that it was going to work out well, but I needed to make some changes, and then I could take time and energy for other things in my training, which I think worked out pretty well.
How do you expect the sport to evolve in the future?
- Thats a good question! I think the Visma Ski Classics organization and the product itself are growing and improving every year. That is really cool to see.