Lillehammer’s Pål Golberg on Finding Success at Home, Rollerskiing Year-Round (Exclusive Interview)

Inge ScheveDecember 11, 2014
Pål Golberg (NOR) has spent significant time working on his skate technique this fall, and his efforts are paying off. Here from the FIS 15K skate at Beitostølen in November. Photo: Inge Scheve
Norway’s Pål Golberg during the 15 k freestyle last month in Beitostølen, Norway. Golberg  has spent significant time working on his skate technique this fall. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

Norwegian national-team member Pål Golberg rollerskis through the winter and plays golf as much as he can.

Golberg, 24, had his international breakthrough at the Lillehammer World Cup a year ago, when he won the 15-kilometer classic. This year, he came out with a similar fire, winning the opening sprint in the Lillehammer mini tour last Friday.

Pål Golberg after winning his first individual World Cup race in December 2013. (Photo: NSF)
Norway’s Pål Golberg after winning his first individual World Cup race, the Lillehammer 15 k classic, in December 2013. (Photo: NSF)

While Lillehammer is home turf for Golberg, who skis for Gol IL and knows the trails like the back of his hand, he says there is nothing special about the venue. For him, it was simply a matter of racing well.

“There is nothing magic about Lillehammer. It’s all about nailing the tactics and having the best skis,” Golberg told FasterSkier on Saturday, after placing 12th in the Lillhammer 10 k freestyle. “But I like these trails. I’ve trained a lot here and I know the courses well.”

Furthermore, success at the World Cup level is the result of thousands of training hours over several years. Golberg believes in having a plan for every workout, and performing each session with dedication and purpose.

“Don’t just go out there to train. You need to know what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it,” he said.

For him, these training goals vary from making sure he’s staying in specific training zones throughout the workout to more-specific technique assignments.

“Sometimes it’s just sticking to a specific heart rate, other times I tell myself that for 10 minutes every hour, I will have 100-percent focus on technique,” he said.

The secret to better technique

Golberg in a Nutshell:
Hometown: Gol, Norway
Lives in: Lillehammer, Norway
Ski Club: Gol IL
Team: Norwegian National Team all-around
Started skiing: As soon as he could walk
Favorite workouts: Long distance in the mountains at home in Gol, and strength workouts consisting of one-hour uphill double pole on rollerskis followed by general strength in the gym
Favorite place to ski: Golsfjellet, Norway, where he grew up skiing. Vast, open, uncrowded
Favorite post-workout food: pasta with eggs or egg sandwiches – a good mix of carbohydrate and protein
Hobbies: Playing golf, hanging out with friends, playing guitar

Leading up to this season, Golberg has put an extra effort into his skate technique.

“I’ve worked a lot on skating this fall, because I feel that this is an area where I still have a lot to gain,” he said. “I feel that my skating is more efficient now, so the effort is paying off.

“Skating, just like classic skiing, is fundamentally all about balance and coordination,” he added. “So doing a lot of no-pole skiing and working on gliding as long as you can on one ski fully committed with all of your body weight are good exercises for everyone, whether you are at the World Cup level or just getting into skiing.”

Favorite workout

Golberg has several workouts he likes a lot. In the winter, he loves long-distance workouts in the mountains near his home in Gol, Norway.

“You can ski really far at Golsfjellet – all the way from Hemsedal to Nesbyen, which is a long ways,” he said. “Maybe it’s because its home, and I don’t get to be home all that often, but I really think Golsfjellet is quite unique.”

Through the summer and fall, Golberg is fond of moosehoofing and bounding.

“Those workouts are really good for building capacity and technique at the same time. I put a lot of effort into this during the dryland season,” he said.

Year-round rollerskiing 

And Golberg’s final key to success? Rollerskiing in winter.

Pål Golberg (l) takes on Krogh (2) and Petukhov (3) for the win in Friday's 1.5 k freestyle sprint at the Lillehammer World Cup. Golberg won it by 0.24 seconds. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)
Pål Golberg (l) skating to a 0.24-second victory over teammate Finn Hågen Krogh (2) and Russia’s Alexey Petukhov (3) last Friday in the men’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint at the Lillehammer World Cup. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

“I try to do at least one rollerski workout on the treadmill every week, all winter long. My favorite strength session consists of one-hour uphill double poling on rollerskis on the treadmill, followed by a general strength workout in the gym,” he said.

“The double poling delivers specific endurance strength, while the weights and core strength works makes it a very well-rounded workout.”

So where does golfing come in? Before focusing wholeheartedly on skiing, Golberg was an avid golfer. These days, he plays as often as he can. During the race season, that’s not very often, if at all, but in the summer he likes to get onto the green at least often enough to maintain his skills.

“I’m not sure if the skills are directly transferable to skiing, but golf does require a fair amount of coordination and technique as well,” he said.

“I also like to have something else to think about than just skiing and training, especially during times when things aren’t going as smoothly,” said Golberg, who’s put his business degree on hold for the time being.

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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