Sweden’s Emil Joensson didn’t feel like hanging out to watch after his job was done Thursday evening. He went to work in the skate sprint, earned a bronze medal, politely attended the awards ceremony downtown and then sneaked out the back door and drove home to Sweden.
“The days go by faster at home. I needed to do something else and be able to return refreshed and refocused. It was really nice to get away, and I needed that,” Joensson said Tuesday.
Joensson returned with a spark.
“Oooooh, yes, I am so ready to rumble again! Team sprints are really fun to race. I’ve done a few but in a championship they are that much more intense, there are more racers who are really focused on the medals. That will turn up the pace and it will be an incredibly challenging race that requires both speed and endurance,” Joensson said, visibly excited to get on the snow. “We’re racing for the medals,” he said.
While the Swedish national team directors waited as long as they possibly could to name Joensson’s sprint partner, Joensson didn’t worry. He knew it would be either Daniel Rickardsson or Jesper Modin, both guys he trusts – although for different qualities. So tactically, there are still plans to be made.
“It doesn’t really matter who I race with. They are both strong skiers, and I don’t worry about that, but they have different qualities and who races affects what order we go,” Joensson explained, noting that if he gets to choose, he’d rather race against Petter Northug than Ola Vigen Hattestad.
“But mostly I just think about myself and the tasks I have to focus on for the day,” Joensson said,
Intensive training camp
During the days in the cabin in Sweden, Joensson didn’t waste his time staring at the walls. He did one or two workouts per day, including some hard interval sessions, some strength workouts and some plyometrics, as well as easy distance.
“I’ve done some hard intervals, some strength just to stay in the routine, and some plyometrics to create tension in my muscles and feel ready and stoked,” Joensson said, noting that he definitely didn’t have time to be bored.
“I’ve had a few different people come by and hang out. I had a friend come for the tough intervals so I had someone to match, as well as Bengt (Stattin),” Joensson said, adding that he also had some time to just sit in a snow bank and enjoy the sun on his face.
Being a self-announced control freak, Joensson’s trip to the cabin was hardly an impulse idea.
“It was my choice entirely. I planned it and have known about it for three months. I needed that break to pass the time. Time goes so incredibly slow when you’re just pacing up and down the halls of the hotel waiting for the race day to arrive,” Joensson said to FasterSkier.
He explained that by breaking up the stay, it felt more like his normal routine during the World Cup season, where he goes to a race, then packs up and goes home and then goes to a race a few days later.
“That fits better with my natural pace of life,” Joensson said, mentioning that by leaving, he also reduced his risk of catching a bug. Joensson was sick during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and is determined to not let that happen again if there is anything he can do to prevent it.
During his break from the World Championships, Joensson spent considerable time going over different scenarios with his coach Bengt Stattin. The two work closely on mental training, and preparing for tactical and strategic aspects of the sport.
“I spend a lot of time with Bengt. He’s a major reason why I’ve made it to where I am now. We go over different scenarios, analyze things that happen and talk about mental aspects of racing. Like how I can teach myself how to get into attack-mode in a race situation. We work on being prepared for mental scenarios as well,” Joensson explained.
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.