By Teemu Virtanen
This is the second part of our “archive classic” article where you get to board a time machine and find out what Team Serneke captain Martin Holmstrand had to say in the heat of the summer of 2017.
7. What kind of a leader are you and what qualities are needed to run a team like yours?
“I don’t see myself as a leader in that sense, but more like a person who enables things. I take care of the team and run the business side of things. I think it's important to always keep a good sense of humor and refrain from overdoing things if possible. I’m willing to give anyone a chance, but if people abuse my trust or patience, I'll lose my cool. I’m also a bit impatient, which have had its pros and cons in the past, but I guess it comes with the territory in a hectic environment like Visma Ski Classics.”
8. What is the status of long distance skiing in Sweden? Is it difficult to find talent and recruit young skiers?
“I feel that the recruitment opportunities are relatively good since we have many young skiers who show some great potential. Our biggest challenge is to make them winners and not just good skiers in general. Here in Sweden, we have a lot to learn from Norway, and not just in skiing but in general sense. Norwegians have a stronger mental capacity and urge to win than we have here in Sweden, and that is something we need copy from them.”
9. What is your take on Visma Ski Classics and its future - the importance of the series? And what is the future of long distance skiing in general?
“I am looking forward to seeing the future. Our biggest challenge, however, is to attract the younger generation to skiing. Nordic skiing isn’t really considered to be sexy and cool among the youth in today’s world. There’s a massive group of young talent out there choosing interesting things for them to do. Quite often, cross-country skiing isn’t one of them. So, we have to be active and tap into that pool to make sure that one of the selections they may pick is cross-country skiing. Generally speaking, I believe Nordic skiing will survive if the basics are covered, one thing being securing sufficient snow factoring possibilities. The winters being what they are now, we need to be able to provide good training facilities to keep up the interest.”
10. What developments & changes would you like to see taking place in Visma Ski Classics?
“To raise the level of interest, I think we need to let people see what we are doing on daily basis and not to hide behind the curtain – not be so secretive. Compared to maybe soccer and ice hockey, we need to boost up the media coverage and offer behind-the-scenes peeks for fans; they want to know what’s happening in an athlete’s life and how teams prepare for their races or train in their camps. One way to boost the interest of Visma Ski Classics is to do more things around the actual races and teams.”
11. What are your favorite Visma Ski Classics races from the team director's point of view and why?
“Personally, Reistadlöpet in Bardufoss, Norway, and Ylläs-Levi in Finland were two events that I thought were awesome. Mostly because of the nature and the surroundings. My all-time favorite is perhaps Marcialonga, and it's mainly because I like Italy very much and I also work with Italians in conjunction with one of my other companies.”
12. Finally, what is your perspective on double-poling and how it has changed Nordic skiing?
“It is in our human nature to always develop and seek greater heights, especially in sports. Obviously, an individual will always do everything necessary to go as fast as possible. Nevertheless, I can understand some of the arguments in resistance to double-poling, but if people had been a bit more sensitive and humble about the issue from the beginning, the hoopla around it would have been much less than it had been in the recent years. It has become a new discipline in skiing, although it has always been a natural part of classic skiing technique, which has been used since the dawn of time, or at least when cross-country skiing was invented.”
Great words, insightful ideas and opinions from Martin Holmstrand who is gazing upon his lucky stars to bring great success for his team when the new season kicks off in Pontresina, Switzerland, in the end of November. Before we let him go and join his team for upcoming summer camps and roller ski races, there is still time for some “quickies”, and I mean some short questions, four to be more precise. Here they are – enjoy his candidness:
1. Can you put these three Fs in the order of importance for you -fortune, fame, family?
Martin: family, fame, fortune.
2. If you had the almighty power bestowed upon you by "God", what would you change in the world?
Martin: I would change the winters to be better ones just to give young people the opportunity to come in contact with winter sports ;)
3. Who is the greatest legend of long distance skiing?
Martin: Anders Aukland without a doubt.
4. What is your motto for life and for doing sports?
Martin: If everyone had been skiing, there would have been no wars on earth.
Thank you Martin, what a revelation that last sentiment is indeed. I have to agree with him and say that the world would be a better place if Nordic skiing, or any endurance sport for that matter, would be the love of everyone’s life. With this beautiful idea in mind, let’s pursue that idealistic goal and get ready for the next Visma Ski Classics season because it will be filled with love and excitement. And that is a promise I can keep (Editor’s note: I think this promise has indeed materialized and it’s still something we always keep aiming for).