Jens Arne Svartedal lost confidence in his sprinting ability after the 2005 Oberstdorf Worlds, and considered down prioritizing the sprint, but then won the Drammen World Cup sprint.
Svartedal was a couple years ago unbeatable in classic sprint. No one was able to keep up when he accelerated to top speed diagonal technique in the uphills. He was for that reason the favorite when it for the first time was going to be held a classic sprint in a World championship. The 2005 Oberstdorf Worlds was however a big disappointment for Svartedal. He got sick and didn’t race any races at all. After that he also lost his (sprinting) confidence.
– I had a feeling that the 2005 Worlds was the last sprint race I could have won. For that reason I started focusing on longer distances, says Svartedal.
And adds: – Believing in yourself is even more important in sprint than in other races. Incredible focus is a must. The mental aspect is a lot more important in sprint than in regular distance races.
Svartedal went from being a supersprinter to doing better in the longer events. After he won his last sprint race in December 2004, he made the podium several times in longer events. He had for that reason no specific plans of focusing on the sprint towards next years Worlds in Japan where classic sprint is on the program.
But that was before 40,000 spectators cheered him to victory in the Drammen classic sprint in March this year.
See: Norwegians Sweep Men's Sprint, Andrew Newell 8th http://www.fasterskier.com/racing3210.html
A victory which surprised him and was very important for the future.
– The training toward next season will be structured differently now than what I had planned because I won this race, and that way proved (to myself) that I’m good in the sprint, says Svartedal
What will be the difference?
– Workouts with speed and explosiveness and certain interval workouts that I had planned to cut out will instead be prioritized.
Svartedal feels that these workouts are so tough mentally and requires that he is one hundred percent focused and motivated. He got his confidence and sprint motivation back in Drammen.
Classic sprint and the 50-kilometer are both good events for Svartedal in the Sapporo Worlds next year, and he will be among the favorites in both. Both races are on the opposite end of the extreme scale, but he doesn’t see any problems doing well in both.
– I don’t have problems with it. I feel that you are born with your sprint skills.
He also hopes to improve in skating and this way become a candidate for the pursuit team as well.
– I’m getting better in skating every year.
He had a 6. and a 19th place in pursuit World Cup races this season, only a few seconds behind the winner in the last race.
– I need to improve even more in skating and become better at the end of the race to make the (Norwegian) pursuit team, says Norway’s overall best male skier this season.
Only Tobias Angerer beat him in the overall World Cup. He came home from the Olympics with a silver medal and was beside Tor Arne Hetland the only male World Cup skier who won both a sprint and a distance race this season.
– It was a great season. The victory in Davos (his first individual in a distance race) was a milestone. Drammen is the most fun place to win. It was nice to capture an Olympic medal, says Jens Arne Svartedal.