Bente Skari gives assistant coach Egil Kristiansen most of the credit for the huge technical improvement she has made in skating this year. – He's been very patient, says Skari, who explains XC-skiing.com's readers how she has become a complete cross-country skier.
Egil Kristiansen have seen it and Bente have felt it. A breakthrough was imminent. A great deal of hard work and close attention to technical details have contributed to a gradual improvement in Bente's free technique, at least during training.
– I've felt that things have been working out better than before during the training sessions. When I started the on-snow training in the autumn, I noticed that something had changed. I was able to skate up the hills without lactic acid accumulating in my legs. In competitions, on the other hand, I found myself stressed out and unable to skate properly, says Bente to XC-skiing.com.
Up until now, she has not been able to transfer her remarkably effortless classical style to skating. Last Saturday, however, something clicked and she skated like never before. According to Bente, her technical advisor, Egil Kristiansen, has played an important part in the transformation.
– Egil is patient, and he has been working hard with us hour after hour. He is always full of initiative and invites ut to join him for extra sessions where his task is to stay in the rear amd give us valuable advice.
What Bente appreciates about Egil Kristiansen, whose best achievement is an 8th place in the men's 30 km in the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994, is exactly the fact that he participates in the sessions in this manner, instead of just being an observer.
– The fact that he's out there skiing with us, inevitably forces us to stay focused all the time. I believe that my skating is better this year because I've been more focused during practice than I was before. In short, I think I have a more thourough understanding of technical training this year, and this has made it easier to put theory into practice, says Bente to XC-skiing.com.
She has devoted most time on improving her paddling [V1] technique, which is the technique the skiers use when they climb hills.
– The major difference is that my timing is much better. Earlier, I simply moved my legs, whereas now I am able to take advantage on the force in my kick to push myself forward, explains Bente.
Other athletes would have been tempted to give up the skating althogether, if they had Bente's skills as a classical cross-country skier. But, Bente is not a quitter.
– My most important motivation has probably been to win the overall World Cup. Any improvement in skating could be decisive for the final outcome. I believed that I would boost my chances of winning the overall Wold Cup if I improved my skating a bit. That said, it never crossed my mind that I could win a free technique race, says Bente.