I had received an e-mail prior to the U.S. Spring Series informing me that Norwegian skier Brynjar SkjÃ¦rli's participation and noticed from the results that he did very well in competition with top US and Canadian skiers. Following the races, l got a chance to ask him some questions.
Q: Who is Brynjar SkjÃ¦rli?
I am 24 years old and live in Lillehammer, Norway. I have been studying economics and last year became the editor of langrenn.com, one of Norway's most popular XC Skiing websites. Despite studies and work, I regard myself as a XC ski-racer.
Q: When did you start ski racing and have you tried other sports?
I have skied and raced since childhood. I played soccer when I was a little kid, however I had absolutly no talent for it. I also competed in Track and Field until I was 16, – participating in most every discipline at young age, but mainly running later. I am still doing some running competitions as a part of my summer training.
Q: Where do you place in Norwegian ski competitions?
I did not do well this year. The highlights were a silver medal in the relay and 17th in 30km skate race at the Norwegian Championship. My best result ever in the Norwegian Championship was when I was 21–12th in sprint and 14th in the 15km pursuit. In the Norwegian Cup (similar to Nor-Am), my best result is a 4th place when I was 23.
Q: How many hours are you training per year?
Up to this point around 600 hours.
Q: Do you have a coach or are you self coached?
I have one person who helps me and with whom I discuss training, but mostly I make my own training decissions.
Q: Do you work out with other skiers in a club or do you train by yourself?
It's all about myself, but that doesn't mean that I train alone. I live
in Lillehammer, and there are a lot of skiiers, and I occasionally train with some of them.
Q: How serious are the other skiers in Lillehammer?
We have about 40 cross country and biathlon skiiers who are seniors and are more or less full-time racers. Some of them even have medals from this year's World championship.
Q: Are you like many Norwegians a “classic specialist”?
I like skating as much as classic
Q: Why do you ski race?
Because I like the challange. I like to train, being out in nature, and I want to see how fast I can be.
Q: How can you afford to ski race? Do you have sponsors?
Up until now I have been living on my student loan and a small grant you get from the goverment (for a while) when you are a student. That income source has now “expired,” so now I will have to work part time in order to support my ski racing
Q: Do you have ambitions to ski World Cup races?
Q: How many competitions do you do every year and how many of these are marathons or World loppet type races?
I do about 25 races every season. This year, I have competed in three long races: Finlandia, Engadin skimarathon and the Norwegian birkebeiner.
Q: How did you do?
Finlandia was bad. I don`t remember exactly but about 25th. I was 31th in Engadin, about one minute behind the winner (I have a 7th place there from a few years ago). In the Birke I finished 10th.
Q: How did you hear about the Spring Series in the US?
Friends had participated in past years and had really enjoyed it.
Q: Which races did you do in the Spring Series?
They were all held in Hancock, Michigan. I competed in the 10k skate, 10k classic puirsuit, sprint skate, mass-start skate and sprint relay classic. I finished 2-1-18-2-2
Q: What was the length of your trip and what did it cost you?
We were in the US for about 11 days and the airfare from Norway was
Q: Did you travel alone?
No my girlfrend, Anja Rynning Veum travelled with me.
Q: Did anyone sponsor your trip?
No, but the organizers gave us excellent accomodations in Hancock – thank you!
Q: What did you think about the races and the competition?
The races was very well organized and the grooming was good – there were no problems. The race courses were as good as the best I have ever raced on. The competition was also good and there were many participants in each race.
Q: Any suggestions for the organizers on how to attract more Europeans?
First suggestion would be run the races one week later, so that all the important European competitions are done. We had to skip the second part of the Norwegian Championship because of this trip.
Second suggestion–I am sorry to say–but money is always attractive!
Q: Would you come back and do more races in the US?
I hope so, I really do!