The 58-year-old Norwegian Magnar Dalen has been a profile in cross-country skiing for a long time. As Pro Team Director in Team Ragde Charge (and under the team’s previous name). Prior to his time in Ski Classics, Dalen was for many years in various roles in the World Cup, including the role as national team manager in both Sweden and Finland.
Dalen has always been at the forefront of the development of long-distance skiing, both in terms of tactics, equipment and waxing. Team Ragde Charge has led the tactical development within the men’s peloton. Dalen has also, by attracting both Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug to long-distance races, increased the media interest in the Pro Tour in a significant way.
We had a chat with Dalen when he just got home from the season finale in Ylläs-Levi.
What does it mean to receive such an award?
“It is fun and nice to be noticed for the work you do. I have been in this role for quite a few years now,” says Dalen.
Can you describe what your role as a Pro Team Director looks like?
“If you compare with a national team, you have many different people there who do different things. Here you do everything: book travel, accommodation, cook, buy food, write training programs, film video, and so on.”
What’s the most fun?
“To be with a bunch of mature athletes, not old, but people who know what to do. It is easy and quite self-propelled to work with them. There is a lot of humility and respect between us. It also must work quite smoothly; it can’t be too complicated.”
“We live as a group many days during the season. There’s a lot of discussion at the meals about training, lactate levels, equipment, politics, and skiing in general. It’s not quiet around the dining table I can say.”
“In connection with this award, I must also mention Lennart Larsson, who has been by my side in all circumstances during all the years. I would like to share the credit for the award with him,” Dalen states.
You, who have been in the cross-country skiing world for so long, in various roles, can you pick out some highlights?
“For me personally, it is always when skiers who have trained and fought and may not succeed, but then for the first time reach the podium. A third place can mean more to me as a person than a win in another race.”
“Then of course when you get to a race with four skiers first. But that is often because some others have failed.”
“One of the most special moments was when Petter Eliassen and Stian Hoelgaard sprinted for the victory at Vasaloppet, and it was 98 percent sure that Hoelgaard would win, and then Eliassen passed him at the end and won.”
“Otherwise, I want to emphasize those who win the yellow champion bib. I find this with the different bibs so fascinating. Those who win the yellow bib have really been the best skiers that season. It means a lot. Even though the Vasaloppet is the single most important race, it is still the greatest achievement to win the yellow bib,” says Dalen.
What do you say about the development of long-distance skiing during the years you have been involved in the sport?
A lot has happened. In the last two or three years, it has developed further, the bar has been raised very much. I think of Nygaard, Persson and Vokuev, and others, but what impressed me the most are the ladies. It’s amazing to see how incredibly fast they go. It has been fun to see when World Cup skiers came and tried to challenge, and they had no chance.
Which athletes have surprised you in the last season?
“Kasper Stadaas among our own skiers. I didn’t think he would be able to convert so quickly from traditional skiing, with sprint in focus, to winning two races already this winter.”
“The young athletes in Team Ramudden have been strong. I really liked what I saw at Ylläs-Levi this Saturday when they tried to go so hard together. We will see more of that in the future.”
How do you see the future about long-distance skiing versus traditional skiing?
“I think the concept of Ski Classics is fantastic, and I think it will continue to grow. Traditional skiing can be a bit complicated with sprints, intermediate distances and longer distances, classic technique, and free technique. I’m curious about what things will look like in five years. I think Ski Classics will continue to attract and gain market share,” Dalen concludes.