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Will A German Win Vasaloppet This Year?

Before the famous Vasaloppet on Sunday, March 6, ProXCskiing talked to Thomas Bing, athlete of the German National Ski Team and probably the greatest hope for a German victory at this event, about the 100-year-anniversary, his expectations, and preparations.

Photo: Jizerská50

Thomas Bing at the Benzina Orlen Sprint before Jizerská50.

Earlier in November, Visma Ski Classics reported about Thomas Bing’s intention to win Vasaloppet 2022 when he explained:

“To win Vasaloppet is a dream of mine and not a promise. The long-distance ski scene is very strong, and there are many specialists with absolutely impressive performance capacities. So, it would be presumptuous to claim that I will win the Vasaloppet, but I can try my best!”

When we reached him on the phone on Monday before Vasaloppet, he was already on the road and only two hours away from Mora. 

Vasaloppet is fast approaching, and you are considered the strongest German athlete to be the next to win the race, after almost 50 years since the last and only German victory. Some time ago, you said you will win Vasaloppet?

“We have to differentiate between will win and want to win. Will win expresses the security that I will manage to win. But with this strong start field, everything has to fit together for it to work.” 

How did the idea of ​​winning Vasaloppet come about?

“As it worked quite well last year, I was sure that I could perform well again with a team behind me and thought why not try it this year and add as a fixed stage during the season.” 

The German National Team skier came in 11th place in 2021 after deciding last minute to participate in the race without a support team to help with nutrition, waxing, etc.  

How did you prepare for this challenge? Did you change your training?

“Not really, actually. Because of leg injuries, I had to change my training already throughout the past few years more towards double poling. As it didn’t work out with Olympic Games, I had more time to add some long double poling sessions to prepare accordingly.”

Last year you started for a different German team. This year is the Visma Ski Classics Pro Team xc-ski.de AIN Skimarathon Team. How come?

“Unfortunately, the selection of German Pro Teams is not that big, and we want to achieve that cross-country skiing becomes more appealing as a popular sport for all. In Germany, the current situation divides pro and recreational sport immensely, and we want to achieve a better synergy.” 

“As we searched for someone who could advertise this project, we came across Mario Felgenhauer as he has the right network and knows how to pull this off well.” 

In this situation, Bing talks about the most significant German news site for cross-country skiing and biathlon xc-ski.de, partly sponsoring the Pro Team Bing is racing for. 

Two weekends ago, in the German Championship, you won the 10km C race and finished almost 40 seconds ahead of the runner-up. Do you think you are ready for the Vasaloppet 90km?

“I don’t think that this was a preparation race for Vasaloppet. It was more to prepare for the World Cup in Lahti as for now I am still on two tracks, World Cup and long-distance. As a professional athlete in Germany, you can only secure yourself financially with good placements in World Cup.” 

Bing adds that he feels pretty good with his body shape at the moment but had some problems with the skis during the World Cup in Lahti, which he also had during Jizerská50 a few weeks ago when he came in 15th place. 

“Hopefully, this doesn’t happen during Vasaloppet. 90km would be too difficult.” 

This season you won two Visma Ski Classics Challengers events (Ring Frei during summer and La Venosta Open), placed 15th at Jizerská50 where you say you had bad skis, and last year you finished 11th at Vasaloppet. What have you learned from the long-distance races that can be useful for this year’s Vasaloppet?

“From Jizerská50, I learned that it will be challenging if you don’t have the right material. I haven’t experienced it like this before. Usually, I feel quite comfortable in the slipstream, but it was hard to keep up. We still have to work a bit on a better glide.” 

“During the Challengers races, not that many top athletes were at the start, but I realized that I can be quite fast at the end of the race, especially on the last meters before the finish line. This is something I want to exert.” 

What will your last week of training be like before Vasaloppet?

“The week will be very calm with a lot of ski testing. I will maximum do one long session on Wednesday to fully empty the carbohydrate stores so that I can fill them properly afterward and also be able to use the full amount. Otherwise, it will be very calm, and I will trust in my training during January.” 

When asked if he would want to add something else for our readers, he says decisively,

“For me, it’s all about the fun and being there. I don’t want to put too much pressure on. This is the race that I want to enjoy most this year.” 

One could wonder what Thomas Bing is capable of with the right material and the support of a team. Soon we will find out. 

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