Anders Gloersen, 24, and Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, 22, were literally raised on these trails.
“I’ve competed here in Holmenkollen since I was 12 years old,” Gloersen said, noting that they have changed over time.
“The start line used to be on the other side of the jump hill. Otherwise it’s much of the same, but the stadium is better now than it used to be,” he said.
Both Gloersen and Jacobsen are familiar with the famous “Kollen Roar,” the famous crowd in Oslo is arguably the loudest and most passionate in the world.
“The crowd here was amazing today,” Gloersen said, noting that this was his first time racing a major event at the international level in Holmenkollen.
The crowd effort makes a difference. The energy powers the racers to dig just a little deeper. Additionally, the familiar faces were a special touch for the two homegrown talents.
But despite the cheering and the home turf advantage – and it was definitely a benefit to have seen the challenging course a few times before – both Gloersen and Jacobsen fell short of the medals and were eliminated in the semis.
“I thought I could be in the medals today. I did what I had planned to do. It should have been good enough, but it wasn’t today,” said Gloersen, who was second in the qualifier and admits that he was disappointed.
“You don’t get a lot of chances to race the World Championships in your home town, so I’m disappointed. I tried to be smart, but it wasn’t smart. I just have to try to get better at getting the last 100 meters down.”
When all was said and done, Gloersen ended up in 13th place.
Given that the sprint was the only event Gloersen was named to, he’ll have a chance to join in the roar for the rest of the World Championships. Of course, there is a miniscule chance that he’ll be asked to jump in an event if someone else gets sick, but although he’d love to race more, he’d rather have his teammates stay healthy.
“If they ask me to race the 50K, I’ll gladly do that.”
The girl next door
For Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, who grew up less than 10 minutes from the stadium, it feels weird to stay at a hotel by the venue. But the crowd is what she’ll take away from the World Championship experience on home turf.
“The atmosphere, of course, was amazing. It was really fun. Norwegians are great, and there was a lot of local community people here, people from my ski club who worked as volunteers and timers and starters when I was little are here and volunteering. And lots of familiar faces among the spectators too,” Jacobsen, who tried not to focus on that during her race.
Jacobsen felt good, her skis were fast, she qualified in fourth place and things were looking promising as she advanced to the semifinal.
“It feels bittersweet now. I was just a shoe-length away from the final. It was just bad tactics. I came into the stadium on the free skate and I know I am faster than Marit. I skied up on her but I didn’t push it. I was a little too passive,” Jacobsen said, explaining that it’s easy to have 20/20 hindsight.
Like Gloersen, the sprint was the only event Jacobsen was prequalified for. She is now an alternate for the other events, but suspects that she’ll be watching a lot of racing the next week and a half.
“I might be a backup. If there was one race I would like to do, it would be the 10K classic. All the time growing up, that was my event here,” she said.
But when things went the way they did, Jacobsen is happy for the outcome: Marit Bjoergen has worked hard for the title.
“It was good for Marit. She deserved it. It was good for the team to take the first gold medal here, and it was a good start for Norway in the world Championships. I am sure we’ll have a full stadium here every day.”
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.