To start, we talked with Vetle Thyli, athlete and Pro Team Director, about the Pro Team and his personal goals:
“For us, the main goal is to be top 6 on the Pro Team Competition. Then on the men’s side, we want to take our first podiums. Last year, Stian Berg was fighting for the Sprint bib, so we tried to help him with Magnus. But we are not the biggest Team, so we can’t really have a Team strategy before the races. It is mutual aid rather than strategies as such. For the coming season, Stian Berg’s goal is no longer the Sprint bib, so we will be able to help each other’s to stay in the groups and come closer to the podium.”
“Personally, I am aiming for my first podium. Several times, I was close to the podium with some 4th places and a few top 10. If I had to choose only one race, it would be either Birkebeinerrennet or Vasaloppet.”
The Norwegian Pro Team athlete Magnus Vesterheim also shared his goals for Season XIV:
“For me, my goal is to be closer and closer to the podium and be top 10. I would also like to compete for the Climb bib, but I have to see where the Climb points will be on the course. Indeed, last year in Orsa, the Climb was close to the start. I would rather prefer the climbs after at least 15km,” says Vesterheim and continues about his life when not training and racing:
“I am lucky enough to be a full-time skier for four years now. And in addition, I run the Pro Team social media. I enjoy gaming during my free time, and my favorite video game is FIFA. We haven’t organized any training camp tournaments yet, but it will probably be planned,” Vesterheim laughs.
Then, we met Ellen Søhol Lie, a traditional cross-country skier who competes for Australia:
“I am half Norwegian and half Australian. I entered the Australian National Team four years ago when I realized that we haven’t a relay at the Olympics, so I was like, okay, they need me (and laughs). Unfortunately, I wasn’t in Beijing 2022 because I broke my leg in February. But I am glad because I recovered well. Six weeks after the accident, I was back on skis!”
“Alliansloppet race is the first one since my accident, and I am really happy to be here with the Team. The atmosphere on the Team and for long-distance races is great. I would love to be able to compete in Ski Classics this winter, but my main goal is still the World Cup and the World Championships in Planica. I hope that I will be able to compete in Ski Classics at the end of the season. I would also love to be able to do Vasaloppet, but we’ll see if it works with the World Cup calendar.”
Søhol Lie is not the only one who is used to competing in traditional cross-country skiing. Indeed, Fredrik Helgestad was a traditional skier until last year. This season will be his first one in Ski Classics.
“The distance I enjoyed the most in traditional cross-country skiing was 15km classic technique. I don’t have a specific goal this year since it will be my first year. I will just try to do my best to help the guys at the beginning of the races, and then we’ll see.” Helgestad finished Alliansloppet in the 82nd position.
On the women’s side, ProXCskiing talked with Oda Nerdrum. This season will be her third in Team Kaffebryggeriet, and her personal best on the Pro Tour is 15th place at Tåssåsen Criterium 64 in 2021.
“I am not a full-time skier, and I also work as a care assistant. Basically I help people in their everyday lives. I didn’t race a lot last year, and I hope I will be able to compete more this season. The two races that I prefer are Reistadløpet and Vasaloppet.”
To conclude, we talked with Bård Eskil Bjørndalen:
“As Oda, I was already on the Team last year. My long-term goal is the Youth bib, and for this winter, I am aiming for top 30. I think Prato Piazza Moutain Challenge can suit me well, but otherwise, as Oda, my favorite races are Reistadløpet and Vasaloppet.”
“In addition to skiing, I also work as a banker. I finished my studies last year, so I worked full time until August and will work part-time this winter.”