NORWAY – When Russian skier Nikolay Pankratov was caught on the Swiss border with intravenous equipment and 22 vials of actovegin, nobody was more shocked than Martin Johnsrud Sundby. The Norwegian national team member has spent much of his summer training with and getting to know the Russian skier during his extended training stay in Norway.
“I’m shocked, and I just don’t want to comment further at this point,” was Johnsrud Sundby’s answer when Langrenn.com brought him the news this weekend.
Impressed with Pankratov’s volume
Earlier this fall, Johnsrud Sundby said in an interview with Langrenn.com that he was impressed with the Russians’ eagerness to train.
“You almost want to ask yourself if what we do at the national team is elite level,” Johnsrud Sundby said with a grin.
Johnsrud Sundby is one of the national team racers who can show off the most annual hours in his training log, and barely ever skips a workout. For the upcoming season, Johnsrud Sundby and national team coach Morten Aa Djupvik have decided to cut back a bit on the annual hours in order to ensure quality.
This summer, Johnsrud Sundby has spent considerable time with Pankratov, who has two second-place finishes on the world Cup, as well as a bronze medal from the 2005 World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER). Johnsrud Sundby was impressed with Panratov’s capacity.
“You sometimes start to wonder whether what we do here in Norway is elite level at all when you hear how much these Russians train. It’s insane. I’m simply shocked by some of the stories Pankratov tells me,” Johnsrud Sundby said to Langrenn.com.
Pankratov, who signed a mutual contract with the private Norwegian initiative “Team Synnfjell,” completed an extended stay in Norway at the end of august. One of his last workouts was an uphill time trial that Johnsrud Sundby also attended.
“He’s an incredible athlete. It’s been very interesting to gain some insight into the Russian training culture. It’s quite different from what we’re used to here in Norway,” Johnsrud Sundby said after the time trial.
Six to seven hours per day
That the Russians log far more training hours than the Norwegian national team doesn’t bother Johnsrud Sundby one bit. “I think it’s really interesting. It just shows that putting in a lot of hours really works. The Russians are very strong, and often the fastest in the field. There is guaranteed nobody who trains more than the Russians, and their training methods are different from ours. Pankratov puts in between six and seven hours of training every day, so then you do the math for the annual volume,” Johnsrud Sundby said.
What are your thoughts on overtraining?
“In Norway, we’re horrified of overloading the system. We talk about overload here and overload there, but few Norwegians do more than three to four hours per day. You get quite a different perspective when you hear how much skiers from other nations train. We only train half the volume of the Russians.”
There are no rights or wrongs
Johnsrud Sundby is attending the Norwegian national team altitude camp until the middle of September. Only he and Petter Northug are staying that long. ”I think a lot of people are too fast to draw conclusions. For instance, I’ve noticed a lot of people claim that that the volumes and methods the Russians train are silly. Well, it obviously works, so it can’t be that wild,” he said.
But it seems to work just fine to train half as much?
“Exactly. That’s what’s so interesting. There are no black and white rights and wrongs,” Johnsrud Sundby said. “But I have a feeling that a lot of people in Norway train a lot, but very few log extreme volumes. At the same time, there are a lot of very good Norwegian skiers, but not very many extremely good skiers,” he added.
Does Pankratov inspire you to match his training volume, or will you stick to your plan of slightly less volume this season?
“This season I will reduce my volume just a bit. I hope that works for me,” Johnsrud Sundby said.
From Langrenn.com August 25, 2010 By Ola Jordheim Halvorsen, translation by Inge Scheve
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.