Nordic Nation: An Interview with Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla

Jason AlbertMay 31, 2017

Nordic Nation heads north and more than a few time zones away for this episode. On May 22, we spoke with Swedish ski star Charlotte Kalla. The five-time Olympic medalist will turn 30 on July 22. She remains a motivated athlete willing to work hard to improve as she turns an eye toward the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Her resume is long. In what seems like a different era, 2006 and 2007, Kalla hauled in a bronze, a silver and three golds during her two appearances at Junior World Championships. And more than a decade ago, in 2006, Kalla began her World Cup career. Between 2009 and 2017, she’s earned 12 World Championship medals to go along with those five Olympic medals. It’s quite the curriculum vitae.

Kalla’s performances also trend towards the dramatic. She bested the field to win the 10-kilometer skate at 2015 World Championships at home in Falun, Sweden and came from behind as the anchor leg at the 2014 Sochi Games to secure an unlikely gold for Sweden. During an era when the Norwegian national team has remained a consistent podium lock, Kalla is an omnipresent spoiler for Sweden’s neighbor to the west. Think of her as a 10 k skate specialist? She earned two bronze medals this year in the 10 k classic and 15 k skiathlon at 2017 World Championships in Lahti, Finland. 

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla racing to a third in the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle race at last season’s World Cup in Ulricehamn, Sweden. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

Give the interview a listen and you’ll hear Kalla describe those races, her decision to train separate from the Swedish national team, and recovering from an uneasy start to the 2016/2017 season. Additionally, she talks about how male and female athletes are treated differently at the highest level of her sport, and her admiration for the Norwegian and U.S. women’s teams.

“I think it’s really fun to see and meet the American girls and think of what a journey they have been going through,” Kalla says. “It’s so amazing to see what position they have today in the women’s World Cup. [They have] so many good athletes and really nice attitude and very welcoming to other nations, and the way they develop sports, it’s really impressive.”

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Jason Albert

Jason lives in Bend, Ore., and can often be seen chasing his two boys around town. He’s a self-proclaimed audio geek. That all started back in the early 1990s when he convinced a naive public radio editor he should report a story from Alaska’s, Ruth Gorge. Now, Jason’s common companion is his field-recording gear.

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