Therese Johaug: The Importance of Parents

Inge ScheveMarch 5, 2011

“Mom and dad were there. I can’t even remember what we said to each other, I was just so incredibly happy,” Therese Johaug said to Norwegian TV station NRK after her gold medal race in Holmenkollen Saturday.

Johaug, 22, comes from a farm in the small mountain village Dalsbygda in eastern Norway. She grew up playing around in the fields, and skiing was part of that free play in the snowy months. When she was younger, gymnastics was her big thing, but as she got older, she was increasingly drawn to cross-country skiing. As Johaug shines at the World Championships in Holmenkollen, there is comfort in having her parents on site during the races.

“Mom and dad, they mean so much to me, and they always have. They support me, back me up through the rough times as well as when things go well,” Johaug said to FasterSkier after her 10K classic on Monday, when she finished fourth.

“It’s really special to hear their voices along the courses here in Holmenkollen.”

Homegrown: Regional racing right on Johaug's farm field in Dalsbygda. These races typically attract 200-400 racers 9 years and older. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

Support from the start

While a lot of Johaug’s basic ski time was simply informal play on skis at home, around the house, she also started more organized training with the local ski club and entered local races. Accordingly, she needed to be taken to practice and races, help with planning, packing and logistics.

Old times: Baby sister Veronika, Therese and brother Karstein at home on the farm. (Photo courtesy of Karstein Johaug)

“My dad, he has waxed a lot of skis over the years. You have to have to have supportive parents to succeed,” Johaug said.

She was the second child in a family of four. All of them were involved in skiing at some level, with Therese and younger brother Karstein being the most ambitious.

“You need parents to drive you places, to practices and races,” Johaug said.

No pressure

And while Mom and Dad Johaug always encouraged their kids, they never overstepped that fine line between support and pressure.

“They were never pushy, and they never forced me to race. They never forced me to train; it was always my decision, and always totally voluntary. They’re there for me when I need them, and if I want their advice.”

“We call each other every day. Then we talk about everything under the sun, from the weather and the wax and the courses and the skiing, to little things like what’s new at home and who’s doing what,” Johaug said.

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.

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