Norwegian Top-Skier Warns About Dieting: Not A Shortcut To Success

FasterSkierJanuary 7, 2004

Norwegian National Team skier Hilde Gjermundshaug Pedersen doesn’t like the word dieting, but notes that some skier has it on their plan. She warns very strongly against young skiers trying this in order to become a better ski racer.

-This is a warning to all young skiers since this is not the way to go. Dieting is not a short cut in order to become a better ski racer. The only thing that will make you a better racer is lots and correct training over many years along with a well balanced meal plan with sufficient intake of food and fluid, – says Hilde. G. Pedersen. She also states that it’s important to take one step at a time.

You will only experience a short-lived benefit if you loose lots of weight in a short time-period.
-You need sufficient food and fluid intake in order to become good. Weight loss will give you a quick, but short-term boost in MaxVo2. After that you will experience that your body will start to “eat” its own muscles and that’s the end of the short-term benefit. We have to hope that those who are trying this can control themselves, says Pedersen.

Don’t you need to be skinny to ski fast?
Not at all. Look at Vibeke Skofterud, Marit Bjorgen and myself. We are not skinny. We have muscles and are skiing fast. We have healthy idols, says the veteran ski racer.

Dieting has become a conversation subject in the National team circles as well.
-I’m concerned about cross country skiing if dieting is allowed to develop again. We might then again see the same what we saw in the eighties and I don’t want to be a part of that once again. I’m seeing some of the same signals now as I saw then and don’t enjoy being a part of that type of environment, states Hilde.

Diet-press in the eighties made Pedersen feel that she didn’t fit it. For that reason she quit skiing and started with ski-orienteering instead.
– We had lots of pressure those days. I was never able to loose weight and got frustrated. I had lost before I arrived at the starting line; it was a psychological barrier that was put on. I don’t want upcoming skiers to experience this, says Pedersen

– I have more experience now and am able to handle things like this but I admit that it’s still a tough subject to deal with. I’m concerned about how the younger skiers are dealing with it.

Pedersen has decided to retire after this season but says that she would have chosen an environment where dieting was not a subject if she was going to continue. It’s not ideal when some skiers are having problems. Dieting and eating disorder symptoms become a discussion subject between the girls.

Gjermundshaug wants to express her feelings about this subject in order to warn up-coming ski racers.

-I want to make these statements because it’s not in Cross-Country skiing’s best interest to have this around. There are no short cuts. Desire, training and patience are some of the skills young girls need to have in mind.

Pedersen hopes that the skiers of the future will look healthy and have muscles and “meat” on their bones.

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