“If someone had said before the season that I would have three podium places, win a race and be third in the total, I would have taken it right away,” says Novak.
Max Novak won the pink Youth bib clearly ahead of his teammate Herman Paus with 1597 points against 1028. Novak also won the Youth competition in Season X, 2019-2020, but this winter, he has been on another level and met the expectations he had on him after his strong summer on roller skis.
Ahead of Season XII, Novak had never been on the podium in Ski Classics. Now he can look back on three podium places. The first victory of his career came when he won the Pustertaler Ski Marathon in early January, and then he was in second place at Birkebeinerrennet and third at Tartu Marathon.
Before the season finale at Ylläs-Levi last Saturday, his goal was to pass Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, in the total and be second behind Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Charge. Max and his teammates really gave it a try, but Persson won the race, and Novak finished sixth.
How was Ylläs-Levi for you? You in the Ramudden trio pushed it hard!
“Yes, that race had a high entertainment value, I think. Thanks to us perhaps, says Novak and continues;”
“I felt really good, as I have done in many races. We have wanted to have a situation like this where we are all three up there, and now there were also only two skiers (Emil Persson and Johan Hoel) with us. But the problem was that it was difficult to do it tactically. We tried, and we had the main responsibility to keep the group going even if Johan and Emil also were in front. We could not let anyone other than me go away, and it would only have been good for Emil.”
“We showed that we are strong, but we could not do much with it. Then I tried to leave Emil behind in the uphill, but he was so strong that it ended up the other way instead.”
The missed second place in the total does not grieve Max so hard.
“If someone had said before the season that I would have three podium places, win a race and be third in the total, I would have taken it right away. Even though it was a little pity with the last race, I sum up the season as very positive.”
When did you have the best feeling this winter?
“I was in good shape all summer, then at the first race in Orsa Grönklitt, the feeling was not great, but it got it back for Pustertaler Ski Marathon. It felt very good there, better and better throughout the race.”
“Since then, it has felt good in most races, but at Marcialonga, the feeling was a little worse. At Jizerská, I was in good shape, and there, however, the skis were not so good. Vasaloppet was one of my best races, as I said before. I have been very strong in some races, but I have maybe had too much focus on controlling the leading pack. At Vasaloppet, my teammates had it a little tougher, and I had to take a lot of responsibility. I should just trust that the peloton would do the job.”
During the winter, Novak has reported some extreme amounts of training of six hours per day during the weeks between races. Now, however, there will be significantly less time in the training diary for a period.
“You get some flaws at the end of the season, and I also need to mentally break completely from the skis for a while. Now it’s not such tempting weather either. It’s worse to skip skiing if it’s nice outside.”
What do you do instead? Are you lying on the couch?
“I have some things to do. Some things that should fall into place before next season, including sponsors.”
How are your thoughts ahead of next season? What about your extreme amounts of training in certain periods?
“I will continue in the same way and increase a little more. But the most important thing is to have continuity and not incur injuries.”
Last year was a bit special for Novak with a serious injury in the spring that kept him away from training for a longer period and then a bicycle crash in the fall that disturbed some with an injured hand.
Was it not optimal for you then?
“Or maybe it was optimal with those breaks. That’s something you do not know. You want continuity, but sometimes it’s probably good to get a break so you can train hard again afterward.”
“I will have a planning meeting with my coach Mattias Reck. We’ll see how we do it. It has worked well the way I have trained so far.”
How close is your and Reck’s contact during the season?
“Not daily, but maybe once a week. I write how the feeling is, so he knows. But if he has planned something, I can do more or less, depending on how I feel.”
You said you don’t train so much now. Will you still compete anymore this spring?
“Yes, I will. Swedish Championships in team sprint in Bruksvallarna on Thursday. I’m looking forward to it, so I have to keep it up a bit more anyway and try out some classic skis.”
Will it be the last race of the season?
“No, I will go to Kobberlöpet (April 23) in northern Norway as well. But it will probably be the last one.”