DPONLY Ski Club is not even a year old, yet the number of members has already reached 65 and is on the rise. The club focuses 100 percent on long-distance races, and its members are determined to get closer to the elite at Vasaloppet.
Johan Didron, the Ski Club treasurer and sports manager, told Langd.se about the increasing interest in double poling and the club’s youth and Ski Classics investments.
DPONLY Ski Club was formed in August 2022. The founders behind the club felt that there was a lack of a ski club with a full focus on long-distance racing and double poling.
“Many of us come from older, Swedish, traditional sports associations with many branches. In addition to cross-country skiing, the same club may offer orienteering, running, and perhaps alpine skiing,” says Johan Didron, treasurer and sports manager at DPONLY Ski Club.
Johan believes that he and other members looked for a ski club with a different approach. Many recreational skiers have their sights set on Vasaloppet and long-distance races, while the classic clubs often reward traditional cross-country skiing.
“The classic clubs are good associations, which are right to bet on traditional and young people, but we were looking for something else.”
The club was initially looking for members with a level corresponding to “starting wave 4 or better” at Vasaloppet – a requirement that soon had to be changed as the interest from active recreational skiers with high goals was more significant than expected.
“We didn’t think that there would be close to 70 members and that there would be such great interest. There would have been an imbalance if there had been one level 10 skier and seven level 1 skiers in a training session,” says Johan and continues:
“But now we have so many members that our training sessions are organized and good for everyone. Precisely because there are many of us, but also because we arrange the training sessions to suit everyone.”
Johan continues to claim that the club is still better suited for someone who is at a level or has ambitions of starting wave 6 or better and advises beginners to apply to other clubs or coaches. When these are ready for more pole training, they are also welcome to the club.
Works According to a “Give and Take Philosophy”
DPONLY consists of both recreational and elite skiers. Johan describes the club as a bit more “premium” than other clubs, as they have a more expensive financial model, but at the same time explains that the money goes back to the club’s members in one way or another. The elite skiers, who pay less than the recreational, contribute in return with technique tips and training programs. An exchange where surplus, both in the form of knowledge and money, remains in the association.
“Our club has ambitious recreational skiers who want to develop and are passionate about getting better. Vasaloppet and the seeding races are something that gets people fired up. It becomes a life goal to reach a certain position in Vasaloppet. This makes people want to develop their technique and double poling, which is where our elite skiers come into the picture,” explains Johan.
What do your members say their goals are?
“It’s a bit mixed because there are so many of them. But as a stated goal, many must reach the next starting wave; then we are talking in a year. Some have more long-term goals. They are in tier 4 now, but in five years, they want to be in the elite.”
Many of the club’s members have also stepped up a starting position during the year, a sign that the club’s structure is working. Johan still emphasizes the skiers’ jobs and motivation as the decisive factor in why so many succeeded in achieving their goals.
What is it about Vasaloppet that motivates people so much?
“It is difficult to answer that. I think it has become a kind of indicator of how good you are as a skier. It’s the only thing people can really relate to when it comes to how good you are and is also very measurable,” Johan answers and elaborates:
“It’s like the World Championships for recreational skiers, and the only race from which you remember your position and time. Vasaloppet is sacred and anxiety-ridden simultaneously – if it goes well, you float on clouds, and if it goes bad, you become depressed.”
Double Poling, a trendy form of training?
DPONLY, as the name says, Double Poling Only, directs all focus to double poling. Double poling as a form of training and Vasaloppet seems to involve more and more people; Ski Classics broadcasts the events with brilliant viewing figures; Emil Persson is on a Swedish talk show, influencers, and YouTubers completed Vasaloppet 2023, double poling machines are available at every other gym in Sweden, and Vasaloppet 2024 is already fully booked. Johan Didron and DPONLY are sure of their cause.
“I would say that it is a trendy form of exercise – partly because it is a healthy and gentle form of exercise,” says Johan.
“Some good skiers have back problems, but generally, it is a physical kind, repetitive movement that you can do over a long period of time without it getting worse. The risk of injury is lower than in other comparable forms of exercise. If you compare it to running, there are many more injuries than in double poling. It also allows you to keep double poling longer,” he adds.
As an alternative explanation, is a shorter distance between recreational and elite in competitions with double poling versus diagonal striding. In addition, you can quickly develop and achieve a good double-poling technique.
“It is a complicated technique if you want to get really good at it, but compared to other technical sports, learning and getting good is much faster. It makes it easier for you to approach the elite,” says Johan.
Wants to Establish in Ski Classics
The club recently posted on Instagram that they are looking for juniors and young athletes for the association, part of a diversity approach, where different ages, gender, and skills should contribute to a more interesting and dynamic club. According to Johan, there are many options for investing in traditional skiing, while there are almost no options for investing in long-distance skiing at a young age.
“We want to tell them: ‘There is a club for you.'”
Do you act as a step for younger skiers before they apply further, or is the idea that they will eventually be able to compete for DPONLY in Ski Classics?
“Our goal is for them to be able to compete for us. What we are trying to achieve now is a team in Ski Classics.”
“Since the beginning, one of the driving forces has been establishing a team in the long-distance circus,” says Johan. “The more skiers there are in the club, the better elite team you can have.”
“Now we have four elite skiers and four elite aspirants, and if we supplement that with one or two more girls for the elite team, then we have a solid squad for Ski Classics.”
DPONLY Ski Club plans to step up the investment as early as next season. This year’s participation in Vasaloppet and Marcialonga is planned to be expanded; to have skiers at the start in all the big races.
Is the club’s long-term goal to establish a Ski Classics team?
“We aim to have a team already next season, and the long-term goal is to have a team that makes a name for itself and is good, eventually bringing in good athletes and sponsors. At the moment, we have one sponsor, but hopefully, we will have time to bring in more,” Johan says.
“What is a bit unique is that it will be a Ski Classics team backed by a club. It is not a company that cruises together a team, and then that team does not exist for the next season, but we will still be around in 10 or 20 years. We will get better and better, bigger and bigger. This is a long-term project, with a kind of organic growth.”
The club currently consists of 65 members. More are expected to join, and who should be able to work as back-up, among other things, in terms of service, support, and waxing.
“We are like one big long-distance fan club,” concludes Johan Didron.
Read more about DPONLY here.
Top Photo: DPONLY Ski Club