At the end of Mads Ek Strøm’s senior year at the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU), the 26-year-old Norwegian had some decisions to make. He started by looking for a job in the U.S., specifically in the finance industry, in addition to pursuing a master’s degree in finance.
Then the three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion — who won back-to-back races at the 2016 championships and came 0.5 seconds from a fourth NCAA title last year — got a call from Dave Stewart, head coach of the University of Denver (DU) Ski Team.
DU’s assistant coach for the last six years, Hakon Johansen, had accepted a position as head coach of the Chinese biathlon federation, which is aiming to strengthen its snow-sports teams in advance of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Stewart explained in an email to FasterSkier.
“When I started thinking about a new coach, Mads was a top choice immediately based on his experience as a competitor, as an NCAA student-athlete and from what I know he invested in his own training and in his teammates,” Stewart wrote of the Oslo native. “I have a lot of faith in a coach who is motivated to pass on to his athletes what he learned from his own experiences.”
Strøm, a seven-time first-team All American and the winningest male skier in CU history, accepted the offer and started at DU at the beginning of the semester about a month ago. DU announced Strøm’s hiring as assistant nordic coach on Sept. 15.
“I couldn’t say no when the offer from DU came along,” Strøm wrote in an email. “It’s been awesome so far and it was a great way to still be a part of the skiing community.”
His responsibilities include discussing training plans with athletes and helping them reach their goals, he explained.
“As a coach, I really hope I can help the all the athletes develop as skiers but also as human beings,” Strøm added. “Their goals are my goals and hopefully we can bring back the national championship to Denver for the 24th time. I really want to develop skiers and potentially find and help US skiing to another level.”
“Mads has hit the ground running here and has been received well by our team,” Stewart noted. “We have a very motivated and fun team this year. A few young new faces and enough experienced returners among both women and men to lead the way. As always, our goals will be to be better than we have been before both individually and as a team and win NCAA’s.”
We asked Strøm for a Wednesday Workout, and he shared one of the best ones he knows: Level 3 uphill skate intervals.
“You get to increase your VO2 (Level 3-4) and you get lots of repetitive movement which makes you able to work on technique over a longer period of time in ‘race pace’,” he explained.
“Before the workout try to make it THE workout of the week, as the interval sessions are the ones that makes you a better skier,” Strøm wrote. “Try to create a training plan where you are rested both physically and mentally the morning of the workout. The second session of the day should be a recovery workout (double poling with core strength or just easy running for 45 minutes to an hour).”
The Workout: Level 3 6-8 x 8-minutes skate uphill
- Warmup: Easy skiing for 30 minutes, some minor speed increases to make the body ready for a hard workout.
- The Interval: 6 to 8 times 8-minutes uphill skate. Try to pace it so that every single interval is slightly faster. The last one should be in the form of 30/30, where you try increase the pace for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds and do it 8 times; to increase speed and the tolerance for lactic acid to make it race specific.
- Cool down: 10 minutes of Level 1 and 5 minutes of Level 2 to remove as much lactic acid as possible. Remember food and drink after the workout as soon as possible (protein bars, Gatorade, etc.)
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.