Who Is Ready For The Season Opener?

Inge ScheveNovember 10, 2020
Norway’s Harald Østberg Amundsen winning the men’s 20 k skiathlon at 2018 Junior World Championships in Goms, Switzerland. (Photo: JWSC2018.ch)

Madshus caught up with Harald Østberg Amundsen, the man who pulled in no less than four medals out of four opportunities at the FIS U23 World Championships in Germany last winter. The effort also earned him a spot on the Norwegian National team.

These days, Østberg Amundsen is getting ready for the national FIS season opener events at Beitostølen (NOR).

The traditional race weekend takes place on November 20-22. Friday features classic sprint races for both men and women. Saturday there will be 15km classic races for men and 10km classic for women, and on Sunday the weekend concludes with 15km skate races for men and 10km skate for women.

The 22-year-old from Asker is both excited and nervous for the season opener. Its finals time for the national team rookie, who is entering his last season in the U23-category.

For Østberg Amundsen, the overall goal for the season is to race as many World-Cup events as possible. For that reason, the Beitostølen season opener and the following early season events are even more important than previously.

“The season opener at Beitostølen is the first chance to see where you are compared to the elite national team racers, and that’s why these races are so important for everyone who’s aiming for a spot on the World Cup squad,” he explains.

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Østberg Amundsen also thinks the Beitostølen races will be even more important than usual this season.

“With the current corona pandemic situation, there will likely be less swapping in and out of the World Cup teams this year. Accordingly, it will be crucial to perform really well at the opener events and the Norway Cup races the following weekend, in order to secure a spot on the World Cup team. So, I’m excited but I’m also definitely a bit nervous this year,” he says.

What have you done differently this fall compared to previously?
“I’ve increased my overall training volume a bit. I’ve trained with a few different people than before, and I’ve had a lot of really good workouts with both the national development team that I’m a part of, and with the A-team. I feel like I’ve picked up a lot from those workouts. I’ve also been more diligent about getting as much out of every single workout I’ve done. Rather than just doing two hours of roller skiing to check it off, I’ve tried to look for new ways to improve even on the workouts that I’ve done alone,” he explains.

How do you take advantage of being part of the national team?
“We have done quite a few team workouts and camps where those of us on the development team have been able to train with the A-team racers, and I feel like I gain a lot from those sessions. I have a lot to learn from them about how they solve different situations and terrain, and just how they structure their workouts and training. To be able to train with them on a regular basis and pick up these little things has been really useful,” Østberg Amundsen says.

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Has the support and coaching been different this year than previously?
“Yes. I have access to a lot of the national team coaches now, and they’ve given me more feedback on my technique than I’ve had before. I have also taken advantage of having access to the big roller ski mill at the Olympic Development center, we do more video on workouts with the national team than what I’ve done before, and we’ve done more testing in the physiology lab, both on lactic acid threshold and VO2max.”

What difference do you feel that this has had, both physically and mentally?
“Since we’ve done more testing and video, I just have more numbers and objective data on my training and progress this year than I’ve had before. And because we’ve had several workouts with the A-team skiers, I’ve been able to have incredible matching on a regular basis. I know that a lot of them will be faster once the race season rolls around, but I definitely feel like seeing that I can keep up with them on the workouts and time trials has given me a lot of confidence. That is something I will take along to the season opener events at Beitostølen and beyond.”

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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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