Events & Results
The Weng Sisters About Their Killer Season
This is how Lotta and Tiril Udnes Weng have taken quantum leaps in the World Cup. Opening up about the key to success and the competitive instinct between them.
Lotta Udnes Weng (left) and Tiril Udnes Weng celebrating after the final stage of the 2023 Tour de Ski along with Heidi Weng (right).
Twins Lotta and Tiril Udnes Weng follow each other in most things, both on and off the tracks. This season, they have both taken a big step on the results lists in the World Cup.
After half the World Cup and an impressive effort in Tour de Ski, Tiril is the leader of the World Cup overall, second in the sprint World Cup and is in second place in the distance World Cup. Lotta is in sixth place in the Sprint World Cup and eighth place in the World Cup overall.
Tiril has been on the podium in the World Cup seven times and Lotta three times so far this season. Both took their first individual World Cup win just days apart: Tiril took his first win on January 1, day two of the Tour de Ski. Lotta took his first victory five days later, at the sprint in Val di Fiemme during the Tour de Ski. Lotta had also been at the top of the podium with a victory in the relay during the Beitostølen World Cup on December 11.
Langrenn.com chatted with the twins about their success this season, the key to progress, and their ambitions for the future.
To start with the latest: The ambition is to get medals at the World Championships in Planica at the end of February, beginning of March.
What has been the key to the enormous success this year?
“It is difficult to point out just one thing. Many factors come into play. But one of the most important things for success is that we have a very good team. Even though everyone is an individual athlete, we are one team,” says Lotta.
Is there anything different in that context this season?
“We have two new coaches who have brought a lot of new things into the team in several areas. They have a lot of knowledge and are incredibly good at dealing with athletes. They have really contributed to a good team environment where everyone thrives, which is very important for everyone to perform at their best. It was a good environment before too, but all the girls are much more even this year, and I think that makes everyone feel more that they have to contribute now,” says Lotta.
Twin sister Tiril nods eagerly and continues:
“The fact that there are no chosen ones in the team now. This means that everyone feels responsible for taking some control of the various sessions where they are at their best and ensures that everything is at a high level. Some are good at going a little extra on interval sessions when they think the pace is too slow; others are good at technique and offer tips and input.”
Tiril thinks for a moment before she brings out another important element:
“And then we were all very hungry for revenge after last year. At the end of the season, we felt we had not achieved what we were good at. So everyone on the team has probably gone a little crazy to show that we are better than that.”
Unique training culture
The twins also point out that both the coaches and skiers on the Norwegian National Team are keen to develop.
“We are constantly looking for new methods and ways to train better and become better technically,” says Lotta.
“We discuss a lot in the group. We talk about everything from technique and various sessions and exercises to things we have heard or read about. Everyone is curious and keen to try new things,” says Lotta.
That curiosity is a central part of the Norwegian training culture, and both are convinced that this is precisely an important reason why Norwegian cross-country skiers generally assert themselves so strongly.
Is there anything you have done differently in the run-up to this season?
“The biggest difference is that we have probably never been in such bad shape when the training year started in May. It was primarily explained that we were both sick for many weeks at the start of the season and did not get to train anything. If you had told us in June that we would win the World Cup race or that I would lead the World Cup in the middle of the season, I would have laughed,” says Tiril, and explains further:
“But when I look back at where I am now, I think that it was good to have a slow start to the spring season. Before, I had often been in very good shape in the summer and then got a little heavy towards the start of the season and beyond when it really mattered. Now I was closer to a peak for the start of the season instead. So I will probably continue with that: taking a really good break after the season, but not such a long break from training as we had with illness this year.”
You are similar in many ways – and confusingly identical in appearance, but have you developed different skills on the ski tracks?
“We are very consistent in most aspects, especially in sprints. But Tiril is still slightly better than me at distance. I’m trying to develop, but until further notice, it is Tiril who has to defend the family’s honor on anything longer than one and a half kilometers,” says Lotta.
Although they follow the same training plan, she has so far had the most success in sprints.
“We train almost exactly the same, and none of us train to become pure sprinters. And we spend a lot of time on endurance and interval sessions to increase capacity, which is what is needed to get better at distance. So it’s a bit strange that she is so much better than me at distance. But it’s not something I think about much. I would rather do very well in the sprint than be a little bad in both the sprint and the distance,” says Lotta.
However, Tiril is not sure that her superiority at distance will last.
“Lotta will close that gap before I know it,” she says.
What is it like when one of you is more successful than the other: will there be a bad atmosphere?
“We are still the same twin sisters. But we are concerned with results, says Tiril, and does not hide the fact that they both have a well-developed competitive instinct.
“I think it is very good that we have both won a World Cup each now,” she adds.
And finally: What is it like to spend so much time together?
“That’s really ‘special.’ But it’s going well,” says Lotta, and laughs.
“We are used to being together a lot. And then it would be very boring and strange if one of us had to be at home. But when we are out and with the team, we are also with others a lot.”
Atomic in the back
In addition to the national team’s follow-up and support apparatus, Tiril and Lotta Udnes Weng also have a strong team behind them from their equipment supplier.
The twins have been part of Atomic’s racing program for as long as they can remember and are both grateful for the work Atomic’s support team does and impressed by the product development.
“The service they provide is absolutely invaluable to us. They are always looking for development and to give us the best equipment. They are really good at races, always out testing and doing a lot. We probably don’t know everything they do at once,” says Tiril.
“Yes, it’s really fun to see how they work with development. We always have good skis, and we feel that they really care that we do well and are happy with our results,” adds Lotta.
And that observation rings true.
“It’s really fun to see how things have turned out and that they get to use their potential in this way. It will be incredibly exciting to follow the rest of the season,” says Atomic’s racing manager in Norway, Chrisander Skjønberg Holth.
He says Atomic has invested much in building a solid racing program in Norway and the Nordic region. So far this season, the Atomic skiers have secured 18 podiums in the World Cup. Ten of them belong to Tiril and Lotta.
“The program’s goal is to ensure that the skiers have the best possible equipment for the particular race they will be racing that day and to ensure that they have that little extra margin. In addition, it is important to us that they should feel that by choosing Atomic, you get follow-up all the way from junior age up to and including the World Cup,” says Chrisander Skjønberg Holth.