By Johan Trygg
Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, made a sensational breakthrough last season when he won both the prologue in Livigno and Kaiser Maximilian Lauf in Seefeld.
Emil has trained more and harder this pre-season and aims to ski for new victories during the approaching season XI.
“If I could win before then it’s possible for me to do it again,” says Emil
Before season X there were reports about Emil Persson’s capacity and that he was a skier to watch out for. Lager 157 Ski Team’s Pro Team Director Anton Järnberg, praised Emil and hinted that he had the potential to win races in the Pro Tour. When he won the prologue in Livigno he was the first Swedish male to win a Visma Ski Classics race since Daniel Richardsson’s victory in Årefjällsloppet in 2014.
How often do you think back on your two victories during season X? Is it something that motivates you during training sessions?
“Yes, I often think about it during workouts, especially when I have bad days,” says Emil.
“Now I aim for new victories this winter. If I could win before then, it’s possible for me to do it again,” he continues.
Emil mentions the importance of his fellow teammate’s performance as a success factor for last season.
“Much of the success in season X was because we were a stronger and more even Pro Team than the previous season. Everyone had raised their level and performed better.
When Anton Karlsson is training with the team again (after back surgery) we would assume that you have raised your level even more.
“It means a lot that we will be five teammates in the peloton.”
After the victory in Kaiser Maximilan Lauf last season, Emil got ill and then had to work his way back in shape again - then the season ended abruptly due to Covid-19.
“I really felt that my shape was back after Vasaloppet.”
“We did some test competitions later in March and it felt great. This was also the feeling during training as well. It was really boring when everything got canceled and we had to go back to training instead.”
“I did a lot of skiing in the spring since there was a lot of snow left. I think I did the last training session on skis on May 20th, a long trip in the mountains.”
Then the entire dryland season has gone exactly according to Emil’s plan.
“It has gone well, without any problems during the summer and autumn. I have been injury-free and healthy. Some days you are a bit tired but that’s the way it should be. It’s according to plan.”
“The training is very similar to what I did last year but I have increased the level of almost everything I do. Stepped it up a bit. There will be more hours in total but the same philosophy in my training.
Can you tell us a little about how your training plan looks like?
“I do my training in blocks and quite long blocks, for example, ten weeks. For example, a block with a focus on strength and then double poling and long workouts in a new block.”
“If you do long blocks, you really have time to improve your skills and feel the development”, says Emil and continues;
“I have tried shorter blocks before, for example, four weeks, but If you are worn out for a week, there are only three more weeks left to do that block. Then you do not have time to develop, I believe.”
Who is the mind behind these ideas? Is it you?
“It was our former assistant team coach Lars Ljung (now Swedish cross country national team coach) that introduced this to me last year. It worked well last season, so I felt motivated to do the same this year.”
Your speed and strong finish. Does it come naturally?
“I have not spent too much time on these skills. It comes naturally, goes by itself,” says Emil and makes it sound so easy.”
“I have always been quite fast in sprints.”
So you were born with that speed?
“Yes! So I’m thankful!
Do you have your mindset on any specific races this winter?
“I don’t mind which of that races I will perform well in but of course, Vasaloppet is a big goal. Otherwise, it is the races when you are in shape that you will go for it.”
“It’s a bit sad that Kaiser Maximilian Lauf disappeared. It was a great race and I wish it will make a comeback.”
With more teams and athletes during season XI, Emil expects that the peloton will be bigger and it will be tougher to maneuver there.
“It will probably be narrower in the tracks this winter. You will probably have to be more vigilant and there may be more breakaways,” Emil Persson ends.