Tomorrow, the Visma Ski Classics podcast Orsa2Levi, hosted by Teemu Virtanen, will continue with a special guest, Tord Asle Gjerdalen, who has won the Champion title twice, has won Marcialong three times, and has 11 Pro Tour stage wins making him a Legend in the Hall of Fame.
Tord represented the Aukland brothers’ team for years before joining forces with Team XPND Fuel last year. He took the reins and became the captain of the team, and he went on to become a Vasaloppet winner and a second-place holder in the Champion competition after last season. On the podcast, he will talk about his skiing career, Vasaloppet victory, his teams, his family and the innovations that he has introduced to the world of long distance skiing.
“When I finally realized that I was going to win Vasaloppet, it felt good. But I was so tired. I didn’t allow myself to have any negative thoughts before the finish line. The conditions were really slow for the last kilometers, and a lot could have happened there. I didn’t have that many seconds to Anton Karlsson following me. He’s a great skier, and I wasn’t sure that I could keep the gap. So, I kept saying to myself that I needed to keep on fighting until the end.”
The Vasaloppet victory was a great milestone for Tord who always fights for podium places in every race. Besides his stamina and great performances, he is also known for the Aviator glasses that he wears while racing. However, that is not the only thing that makes him a bit special. He is always on the lookout for new things, and he craves to develop the sport as much as he can. He was the first one to investigate the use of longer poles for double-poling. It certainly took some convincing and persuasion within his team.
“When I came into long distance skiing, I had to learn from the best. The Aukland brothers were initially a bit negative about using longer poles. So, I tried it on my own, but they were not convinced that it was a good idea. They said that we should use shorter poles so that we can go over the poles when double-poling. I tried it both ways and finally realized that longer poles worked better for him.”
Soon after Tord’s realization, longer poles became a standard in Visma Ski Classics until FIS came up with the current pole length regulation. On the podcast, Tord also talks about other innovations or new things that he has brought into the scene. He is very pleased with the development of long distance skiing, and he thinks that Visma Ski Classics has done a great job in taking long distance skiing to new heights. He would be delighted to see some skating races in the Pro Tour as well.
“Skating races would bring in more international competitors from such countries as Italy, France, Switzerland, and maybe Russia. It would also make the tour more interesting as there would be a greater variation of winners. Also, I think that our spectators would like to see something special in our races, like the Cascata Hill that ends Marcialonga. At Ylläs-Levi, we could finish the race by skiing up the alpine slope. I believe that recreational skiers would find that very intriguing. People love real challenges at the end.”
On the podcast, Tord is very open about his training methods, his family and life beyond skiing. He is not sure about his future, but as long as he performs at his usual high level, he is willing to keep going. Tomorrow’s Orsa2Levi is available on all podcast platforms and on the Visma Ski Classics website.