Part 2 – Support Team, Steady Routines, and Dreams

FasterSkierDecember 5, 2002

Continued from Part 1, as Bjorn prepares
for the 10K Classic race at the 1997 World Championships in Trondheim,

Nov 25 – I know that as I slept, many people have been doing a lot to
make sure that everything will be ready for a perfect race. Before the
30-kilometer race three days ago, head coach Erik Røste slept two
hours. When he telephoned the wax cabin at five that morning, the head
wax technician, Magnar Dalen, answered that "Yes, we have been working
on the skis for an hour now."
What an incredible support team we have! They have surely been working
all night, while Erling (Jevne), Sture (Sivertsen), Thomas (Alsgaard)
and I have slept. I know that in a few minutes Erik Røste will
knock on my door:
"Bjorn, you have to wake up. There are three and a half hours until
you start," he'll say like he has so many times before. Erik knows
my routines. He knows that on the mornings before important competitions
the routine needs to be followed to every minute detail.

The first hour is used to get up, awake properly and eat breakfast. The
point is to use as little energy as possible, to avoid irritation over
small things or involve oneself in problems that are not important for
the race. Have mercy for someone if they haven't made sure that the oatmeal
and three fresh bread slices with Norwegian honey and brown cheese are
ready! I also need to have real juice. Even though I don't normally drink
coffee, I finish race morning breakfasts with a cup. It makes sure I am
really awake. I feel safe that Erik has gotten everything in order when
I come to breakfast.

The only thing that unnerves me a little is the transportation to the
stadium. The traffic out in the city is something we cannot control. In
Lillehammer and in other places we have used a police escort. We cannot
be late, I must follow my routine! One hour and forty-five minutes before
the start I want to be in place at the stadium area. Always. The first
fifteen minutes I just go off by myself. Concentrate. I don't want to
talk to anyone or sign autographs. An hour and a half before the start
I begin to test skis. It's like this before every important race. It will
be like this today as well, if we can get the transportation to function
right. It probably will. I trust that Erik has full control.

It wasn't easy for Erik to take over after the Norwegian success in Lillehammer's
Olympics, but he has done it. Erik is clean and contentious, and gets
everything done that he wants to. I am amazed at the way he has solved
his difficult assignments.
I still have one minute on the pillow. God only knows how many times I
have gone over the course profile. For an entire year I have known where
every uphill and every corner is. I know that the first 500 meters are
hard, and after that there is an easier part before we get to a tough
uphill. And I know that the other Norwegians and I will be cheered on
by 30,000 to 40,000 enthusiastic spectators.

All of this I have thought out, and lived through, again and again in
the last year. I have in fact already won the 10-kilometer race during
training, on Romeriksasen (a large hill near home). I have pretended to
skied this 10 km. Alone in the forest I have tried to make it as realistic
as possible. IN my imagination I have received splits during the race.
The whole time I have been even with Smirnov, until we came to the murderous
Brabakken (literally 'sudden hill'). There I took him. We were even at
the bottom, but I was five seconds ahead at the top.
'Now I have you, Vladimir,' I thought as I head the announcer call out
over the loud speaker as I raced in to the gold medal. I have been doing
it like this through the one tough workout after another, both in summer
and winter conditions. Totally exhausted I have collapsed with good thoughts
in my head: I did it!
I have had frightened hikers come over to me: "Hello, are you sick?
Wow, it's Bjorn Daehlie. Is there something we can help you with?"

"Naw," I answered gladly. "I just need to relax a bit."

Actually I should have said, as I lay there in the bushes: "Naw,
I am in great shape. I have just won the gold medal in the 10 km race
in Trondheim."

Now the time for fantasy and dreams is past. The day is here. There is
a knock on the door. I hear the familiar voice:
"Bjorn, you have to get up. It is three and a half hours until you

in Part Three


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