Norwegian Junior skier Petter Northug, jr. was launched as the new Thomas Alsgaard by a web site earlier this week. He is racing his first ever World Cup race this weekend.
Northug (19) has previously only raced FIS races and Scandinavian Cup — and one World Cup sprint race. He is getting his World Cup premiere during the opening of the distance World Cup at Beitostolen, Norway this weekend.
– It’s going to be exciting to race World Cup, and to finally race a ski race again, says Northug.
He is not sure what to expect this weekend, but is hoping to capture World Cup points (top 30).
-I usually need a few races in order to ski fast. But I’m in better shape at this point compared to the same time in the past, says Northug
Protected by the coaches
He doesn’t feel that the recent media fuss following beating the entire Norwegian national team in a rollerski race last weekend has been a problem.
– The coaches have for the most part taken care of this. I have (only) done one television interview and talked with a couple newspaper reporters, says Northug.
He has for that reason not felt too much pressure after Nettavisen launched him as the new Thomas Alsgaard.
– That’s a big compliment. I need to however focus on what I’m supposed to do, says Northug.
Both feet on the ground
Junior coach John Arne Schjetne believes that last years double junior World Champion can handle the pressure.
— He doesn’t have any â€œhang-upsâ€ that will take away his focus on the sport, says Schjetne.
On the other hand, he understands that the junior skiers life is about to change.
– It’s becoming more focus on him and more phone calls from the media. This is new for him, and its lots to learn in that regards, says Schjetne.
He is at this point not afraid that is going to be too much.
– Petter is training a lot and efficient, and is not easily distracted. It can however be too much if he starts to focus on other things. That’s something we won’t know before its part of the past, says Schjetne.