By Johan Trygg
Stian Hoelgaard is the Vasaloppet specialist who was on the podium five years in a row in Vasaloppet.
Now 29-year-old Norwegian is ready for the Swedish Pro Team, Team Curira.
“I’m really looking forward to the coming season in my new team. I’m so motivated, and I have got a good impression of Team Curira,” says Hoelgaard.
There have been some question marks during the spring whether Team Koteng should continue or not as a Pro Team. Both Norwegian and Swedish Pro Team have, of course, been interested in Hoelgaard.
“It was a bit back and forth for a while if Koteng would continue or not. I still decided on Team Curira quite early,” says Hoelgaard.
Season XI didn’t go quite as planned for Hoelgaard, but the end of the season was good; at the 100 km season finale Årefjällsloppet, he sprinted in as second behind Andreas Nygaard.
Over the years, Hoelgaard has taken twelve podium places in Visma Ski Classics since his third place at Marcialonga 2016, but he still has no victory.
In 2020, he looked like a winner in Vasaloppet on the final stretch, but Petter Eliassen passed him just before the finish line. A tough moment for Hoelgaard. From 2016 to 2020, he has the following results at Vasaloppet: 2, 3, 3, 2, 2.
This is how close Hoelgaard was to the victory in Vasaloppet 2020.
What will be the focus in your training to achieve a long-awaited victory?
“The focus will be on increasing my capacity further. It’s important to keep up in the tough climbs but also in the fast parts when someone makes a rapid increase in speed. Capacity is what I will work on the most, but a fast finish has become increasingly important. There is a higher level of many athletes, not at least from Emil Persson,” says Hoelgaard.
How do you think it will be to represent a Swedish team?
“I always liked Sweden and have enjoyed the periods around Vasaloppet. I was at training camp in Torsby, Sweden, for the first time as a 15-year-old. Now I’m very much looking forward to entering a new environment and a team that invests and has a long-term perspective. It will be so much fun to get started with training sessions and aim for a new season,” says Hoelgaard and continues;
“The goal is to fight for victories and win races in the Pro Tour. The dream is, of course, to win Vasaloppet. It would have been cool to do that in a Swedish team.”
Have you started to train hard already now?
“Actually, I want to train hard already now, but I have a more moderate period. I think it’s good for both body and mind,” says the Oslo resident Hoelgaard.
Team Curira’s newly appointed Pro Team Director Johan Kask is pleased that the team has managed to recruit one of Ski Classic’s biggest profiles:
“It’s a dream to recruit Stian. He is one of the best skiers in Ski Classics and an incredibly humble person with lots of technical and tactical knowledge to share with our younger skiers. I’m convinced that his entry into the team will provide energy and raise the standard of both training and competition,” says Kask.
A complete line-up for Team Curira for the 2021/22 season will be presented shortly. However, it’s already clear that Klas Nilsson, 5th in Vasaloppet 2020, will continue in the Pro Team and that Niklas Henriksson and Johan Lövgren will not be part of Team Curira in Season XII.