– The strategy worked very well, a lot better than you can hope for. Cross country skiing is very different than cycling and its fun to involve new ideas and approaches to how you can race this types of events, says the Norwegian team leader, Lars Christian Aabol.
Anders and Jorgen Aukland were the team’s â€œcaptains, while Morten Brors, Anders Hallingstad and Rune Torseth had free roles and their own ambitions. Fredrik Aukland, Oystein Pettersen and Havard Skorstad were â€œhelpersâ€.
The helpers got plenty to do. It was dramatic already up the first hill after start. Jorgen had slippery skis and wasn’t able to hang on to the leaders up the hill. His brother Fredrik had to step in.
– I waited for Jorgen at the top of the hill. He jumped in behind me and I skied as hard as I could until we closed the gap to the lead group, said Fredrik Aukland.
The helpers were also skiing with drink belts in case the main skiers missed any of their own drink stations.
Energy replacement was the most important the first 20-30 kilometer and team leader Aabol had mixed 90 liter of seven different fluid mixes the night before the race.
– We used sport drinks and energy food with carbohydrates that brakes down slowly in the beginning, after that we used carbohydrates that brakes down faster. We were also very aware of the need for energy-bars. We heated these up before handing them to the skiers during the race so they would be easier and faster to eat. Anders ate so many that he almost puked, explains Aabol that was supported by twenty assistants in the support system for the team.
Fredrik had plenty of hard work in the beginning and lost contact with the lead group around the halfway point. Skorstad had been sick lately and didn’t have much energy.
Oystein Pettersen was the one that could stick to the plan, and increased the pace toward the 55-kilometer mark. They wanted as many competitors worn down as possible when Anders was going to make his move.
The young skier Pettersen did as he was asked to do and kept the pace very high. Only Raul Olle was able to follow when Anders accelerated.
– Pettersen did a superb job for the team, said Aabol.
The last part of the plan included the main players, the two oldest Aukland brothers. Everything went as planned. Jorgen was not supposed to hang on when Anders made his move. He was supposed to stay in the pack and not pull in the lead.
Last year’s winner, Oskar Svard was irritated about the tactics when he was interviewed on television after the race. Jorgen felt that Svard did the same to him last year when he (Svard) was the one that didn’t want to pull in the front. (Svard won and Jorgen was second).
It was â€œpaybackâ€ from last year, said Aabol.
The pack was not able to catch Anders and Raol and Jorgen could focus on capturing third — which he did.