The Pro Tour skiers who attended the Bad Gastein press conference shared their goals and ambitions for Season XIV. Read our article to know what some of the world’s best long-distance skiers expect for the new season.
As the new season arrives, the press conferences in front of the Pro Tour events are back and give us the opportunity to understand what skiers expect, both from the events, the season, and from their competitors.
The Ski Classics reigning champion Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Charge, shared some thoughts about his shape and goals for the new season. Even though Nygaard will miss the Pro Team Tempo due to a virus, the Norwegian skier believes the beginning of the season would have been difficult anyway.
“I think the first races of the season would have been challenging anyway, with altitude, short courses, and myself not being at my best. The goal is to be in better shape after Christmas,” says Nygaard.
The fact that the overall champion will miss a race makes him lose the first points of the season, but he hopes to find his best shape after Christmas, where he can conquer the most points.
“To be fighting for the yellow bib you need to be on the starting line for every race, so I guess I will be just aiming for the bigger races. And if the bigger races go well, you are also there to fight for the yellow bib. But I guess it will be more difficult this year.”
Nygaard believes that his time will come during the season, but we will have to wait. And for the main competitors, he believes it will be the usual suspects, like Emil Persson, Kasper Staadas, and Oskar Kardin. But there are new athletes he will keep an eye on, like Amund Riege and Thomas Joly.
Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, was the primary challenger to Andreas Nygaard’s dominance last season, so he is one of the top contenders for the Champion title. And the Swedish skier feels that he has more chances for the new season.
“I feel I have done a really good training this summer and am looking forward to the season. I feel much better now than I was feeling last year,” says Emil during the press conference.
“I followed the same program as before, but I just got like one more year of training, and I feel a bit stronger and better and have my ‘shoulders’ a bit more relaxed.”
Watch Here: Bad Gastein Press Conference Live On SC YouTube
Another Swedish long-distance skier, Max Novak, Team Aker Dæhlie, was constantly fighting for the podium last season and, during summer, showed outstanding performance. However, Max Novak shared that he is not feeling in his best shape, despite hoping it will come.
“I don’t know; it’s hard to say. I did some good job during the summer, then a tough period in October in Mallorca, and since then, I have not been training that much. I don’t feel super great, but I hope it will come.”
Another athlete who caught our attention last season, especially after conquering some victories, is Kasper Staadas, Team Ragde Charge. We have not seen him competing during the summer, so it is hard to say how his training has been. Despite that, he is still one of the strongest names for the Yellow bib.
“I am feeling all right, but you never know before the season starts. I hadn’t done many competitions before the season started, so I don’t really know where I am at. But training has been good, so I would say I have low expectations but high hopes,” says Kasper during the press conference, and continues:
“I have built on what I did last year. I tried to be better at things that I didn’t manage so well before. I tried something new, and we will see how it goes,” says the Norwegian skier, while also stating that Vasaloppet is his main goal for the season.
However, a super-talented new skier is competing this coming season at Ski Classics. Although the long-distance circuit is not his entire focus yet, Alvar Myhlback, Lager 157 Ski Team, has already shown that he will put some pressure on his competitors. Especially after beating Emil Persson at Edsåsdalen.
“I wouldn’t call myself a long-distance skier, but I will do some long-distance ski races. It is fun and good ski training. My goal is still the Junior World Championships in Canada. Then, I will ski more Ski Classics races at the end of the season,” said Alvar during his interview.
Strong ladies for the women’s competition
Last season, Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Aker Dæhlie, was one of the Champion competition favorites, breaking some barriers like winning Birkebeinerrennet only double poling. However, the Norwegian skier doesn’t openly say if she is going for the Yellow bib this season.
“I am strong enough to race fast and have been improving my double poling. I hope I am strong enough to win races. I will have to continue making tough choices, so I am not sure if I am there for the Champion bib,” says Øyre Slind.
But there is one athlete that wants to take revenge from last season. Ida Dahl, Team Engcon, started the season very strong, but as time passed by, she lost her top shape.
“Last season, I started really well, and then things did not go as planned. To win the Yellow bib, you need to race in every competition. I have become stronger this season, and I hope to keep my good shape,” says Dahl, who also shares who she believes will be her main competitors.
“There are many strong girls. But, of course, Astrid is the strongest. Everyone is talking about Anikken, Jenny; many girls can fight for the big races,” Ida concludes.
Emilie Fleten, Team Ramudden, is one of the strongest contenders for the Yellow bib, yet she has never won a single race. With the help of her new Pro Team Director, Lina Korsgren, the Norwegian skier hopes to change that.
“Lina Korsgren has been with the rest of the team on all training camps and me, helping us a lot. I have had some changes in technique and added some speed training. And, some mental insights. I feel much more prepared to take the next step – to win a race – but we will see.”
The athlete that all the ladies believe will show improved shape this season is Anikken Gjerde Alnæs, Team Ragde Charge. The Norwegian skier used to focus on sprint, but now she aims to fight for both opportunities – the Sprint bib and the podium.
“I was focused on the green bib last year because that’s my best, but as I get stronger, I want to step up to the podium. But, as I was second last year at the sprint competition, I still want to go for it. So, I will go for the sprint bib and see what it holds. I will have to be careful with how I use my speed because sometimes it is easy to get lactated and lose energy for the rest of the race. I hope I am stronger this year and can go for the sprint and the podium.
Finally, Magni Smedås, Team Eksjöhus, has already shown that she has some sprinting capabilities, especially during the Norwegian Championships in Gålå. This relatively new skier on the circuit will probably be the main challenge for Anikken’s goals.
“There are many strong ladies for the sprint, including Anikken, but I think I am quite good at sprint too, so I consider myself a candidate for the Green bib,” Magni shares during the press conference.
As the new season starts, there are many strong candidates for the different classifications, and it takes work to point out the strongest contender. It will be a tough fight for all the competition bibs, both on the men’s and the women’s side.
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