This article was made possible through the generous support of Madshus.
At 19, junior prodigy Helene Marie Fossesholm, has already challenged the established World Cup elite time and time again, and proven that age is just a number.
“When you step up to the start line in a World Cup event, it doesn’t matter how old you are. What matters is getting to the finish line in the shortest amount of time,” says Helene Marie Fossesholm (NOR).
After two years on the Norwegian junior national team, the 19-year-old was named to the elite national team for the upcoming season.
For Fossesholm, the step up to the elite team is simply a natural next step in her progression plan, and another step toward reaching her goals: To become the best skier she can be, and to represent Norway at the Olympics, international championships and the World Cup. First up is the annual Blink summer ski festival, which takes place in Sandnes (NOR) August 6-8.
How has your life and training program changed since becoming a part of the elite national team?
“I haven’t really made a lot of huge changes. The biggest difference is that there will be more national team camps now, but my day-to-day training program is mostly the same as last season,” Fossesholm says.
A day in the life of Helene Marie Fossesholm
Age is no issue
While several of the racers on the elite team are 10 or 12 years her senior, Fossesholm feels like she’s a part of the team on the same level as everyone else.
“We’ve had two team camps so far this season, and I feel like I’ve blended well into the team and I don’t feel that age is an issue. Everyone on the team has the same goal: to be the fastest skier from A to B when we are racing,” says Fossesholm, explaining that she has never considred age as a factor in racing.
“I think that age easily can become an excuse for not performing, or a way of talking yourself down. At the World Cup, nobody cares about your age,” she says.
At the same time, Fossesholm is quick to point out that she still has a way to go before she’s at the same level in terms of training base and experience.
“When I’m at training camps with the elite team, I have to keep in mind that I don’t have the same training base as Therese Johaug and some of the other, older skiers on the team. Accordingly, I won’t be doing the exact same workouts all the time. If they’re doing a specific set of intervals, I might do a similar set, but shorter. Or if they go super long, I might head in a little earlier.”
In addition to being a part of the elite cross-country ski team, she was also named to the A-team with Norwegian national mountain bike team for this season. You won’t find her bikes for sale any time soon as she has no intention of abandoning mountain bike racing.
“I still do a lot of mountain biking, and I plan on racing at the national championships and some other mountain bike events later this year. So certain times of the year, I will do more bike workouts than ski-specific ones, but I feel like the two sports compliment each other nicely,” Fossesholm says.
However, Fossesholm says she will prioritize skiing over cycling when and if the two conflict.
Fossesholm medals in her first World Championships
Always aiming high
Fossesholm not only excels in sports. The ambitious teenager is also pursuing a professional career, and has always worked as hard and systematically with her academics as with her training. And her efforts are paying off.
This summer Fossesholm was accepted to the medical school at the University of Oslo, the most prestigious medical school in the country, and she is planning to accept the offer.
“I feel like I’m going to want something other than just skiing. But I am planning to ease into it, allowing myself a lighter load this first winter. This being my first season with the elite national team full time, I have filed for deferring my studies to start in the spring,” Fossesholm says.
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.