We split this talk into two parts. In today’s part one, we talk about the preparations for this summer and goals for the upcoming winter.
Maxime, can you first comment on your Pro Team’s preparation? How did it go?
“The beginning of the preparation went well; we did great quality training camps. We started at home, in the Pro Team Director’s place, in the Doubs department (France). It was a training camp with only a small part of the group because a lot of the athletes were working or studying. It was a multi activities camp, and it was great to restart slowly.”
“Then, for the second training camp, we were in Jura Mountains, in Lamoura. Almost the whole team was there with our two new athletes: Hedda Bångmann and Jeremy Royer. They quickly became part of the group and were in the lead on almost all the training sessions, so it was nice. And fun fact, Hedda is already learning French, so we can see that she really wants to be part of the team, and that’s cool.”
Then you chose to race both Blinkfestivalen and Alliansloppet.
“Exactly, then we went to Blinkfestivalen to race both the Lysbotn Opp and the 50km classic race. We stayed after the races in a training camp, and it was a great week with good results for the team. It was a rainy week, but it was nice after the warm French summer.”
“We took the races as preparation and as a rehearsal for this winter. The goal is to have some kilometers on the arms and take confidence for the winter. Competing in those races with all the Ski Classics big names is always nice. We went to Alliansloppet and Trollhättan Action Week with the same mindset.”
“The goal was to play on the front, and the result follows. Our main goal is the winter. But of course, we are delighted with Blinkfestivalen and, above all, Alliansloppet performances: Thomas Joly took his first international podium while Jeremy Royer and Antoine Auger were top 20. On the women’s side, Hedda Bångmann did top 10 on both weekends.”
“This is also the occasion to thank Blinkfestivalen and Alliansloppet organization because they invited us to those beautiful events. Without the invitation, we would maybe not have been able to compete.”
Now, what’s your plan for the final preparations before the winter?
“We have decided to change our habits this year by going less for altitude training. We will do a small camp in La Féclaz in September. Then we will return to Doubs in early October to compete in the French Rollerski Championships in Arçon on October 8 and 9.”
“Usually, we go for a training camp in Tignes to be able to ski on the glacier. However, this year we chose not to go for several reasons: sporting, financial, logistical, and organizational. Indeed, we realized that we were accumulating a lot of tiredness on this training camp in Tignes: we had to get up very early to take the funicular, there was a lot of waiting time in the queues, then we lost a lot of time during the day. That, plus the accumulation of training sessions and the altitude, created a lot of fatigue. This year I didn’t consider it necessary compared to the benefits it could have brought us.”
What do you have planned to do instead of this altitude training camp?
“We have chosen to change our habits completely by going to southern France, around Béziers. The goal is to make a lot of rollerski kilometers under the sun, like some Scandinavian athletes, as Peter Northug used to do when he went to Mallorca at this time of the year. Usually, it’s quite bad weather at home at this time of the year, so we will go to find the sun and the warm weather.”
“Then we will go for more than a week to Davos in November to put on the skis, to take advantage of the snow farming, and to do some kilometers on skis before the first Ski Classics weekend in Bad Gastein. We will do our last training camp there. The idea is to be on-site a week before the races to get to know the tracks, the race courses and enjoy the snow. We will arrive on Monday before the races to acclimatize, take advantage of the tracks there, and recognize the races’ courses. So as not to leave anything to luck for this first weekend of races.”
How about the winter goals?
“The common goal is to stay in the top 10 on the Pro Team competition. We were 9th two years ago and 10th last season. We want to stay in this top 10. This is also what allows us to be invited to races like Blinkfestivalen and Alliansloppet.”
“Individually, we strengthened our team regarding last year: the athletes are more experienced, and we recruited new athletes. Consequently, we want to be more consistent and better than last year. It’s a common goal to be more consistent from the beginning to the end of the season rather than just shining on a few highlights throughout the winter. For the youngest, the idea is to progress by racing with the best and continue to gain some more experience.”
Part two of this interview will be about Maxime Grenard’s background, vision, life outside skiing, and hobbies. Stay tuned!