This is the fourth article in a mini-series that puts focus on the transition from junior to senior racer – often a difficult time in a young racers life.
Norwegian National Development Team coach Morten Aa Djupvik is asking first year seniors to keep on going even if the results are not stellar in the beginning. He is of the opinion that many skiers can succeed in the long run if they are patient.
â€œThe transition to senior class racing is tougher for juniors that are not quite among the top juniors. They have to be patient. Look at Anders Aukland and Odd Bjorn Hjelmset as examples. They did not do great in their first senior years and now they are among the best World Cup skiersâ€
Djupvik was, prior to coaching the Development Team, coaching the Junior National Team. He is now responsible for several ofNorway’s most promising young senior skiers. Among them are first year’s seniors Oystein Pettersen and Chris Jespersen. They and many other are getting ready to race all the best skiers this season.
â€œIt’s hard to tell how tough the transition to the senior class is, but for some it’s difficult and for other it makes them retire from racing. It’s a question about what you are prepared to handleâ€
Djupvik is focusing on the fact that you can become a very good ski racer even if you don’t succeed immediately as a senior.
â€œThere are absolutely long term possibilities. Some will use longer time than others to develop and it’s important to not give up even if you don’t see immediate success in the first or second year as a senior”. There are many skiers that can become better than they were as juniorsâ€
â€œIt’s important to be disciplined and do things right. There are not many (good) seniors that are skipping workouts due to bad weather or such. They always get their workouts in regardless. You don’t see the same discipline among the juniors, however there are many (juniors) that are very dedicated and are doing a good job with their training. It’s important for juniors to be focused and organized. You have to train well but controlledâ€.
â€œThe increase in hours and intensity needs to be a gradual progress. Take one step at a time and avoid huge increases in a short time frame. Evaluate where you are in your training and racing and try to look at your training in perspective — over time. Too make a quick 75% increase in not a good ideaâ€
Also be prepared for an uneven performance level during the first couple years as a senior. Young seniors don’t have the same training base as the established skiers and should expect that it’s harder to perform well throughout the entire season. You might on a good day be very competitive while other races can be frustrating.
â€œA bad day in junior racing might not move you down the result list a great deal but a bad day in senior racing where the level is a lot higher might move you to a result placing you are not used to.
We should however not make the transition more difficult than it is. Cross Country skiing is a tough and demanding sport. It’s therefore an important challenge to motivate the upcoming generation that are not ready to race among the best — yet.
It’s important to this group of skier to compare themselves to skiers their own age instead of focusing on the total result — everyone included. Give it some timeâ€
â€œIt’s a natural thing that we lose some skiers in the transition between junior to senior. Some will focus more on their education or pursue other interests. The challenge to XC skiing and all other sports is to make sure that as few as possible are leaving sport at that age. It’s possible to fight your way to the top even if you are not succeeding in the beginningâ€.
There are examples of young skiers that are doing well. These individuals built a good foundation as juniors, trained smart and hit it right with volume and intensityâ€.
He is especially looking forward to see how the two first-years seniors, Jespersen and Pettersen can do this year.
â€œI hope that they will be able to ski steady at the best level the raced at last year. That’s the goalâ€Â