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Frida Karlsson Speaks Out About The Olympics And The Future

Frida Karlsson talks about the collapse during the Olympics, how she reset after the downturn, the goal for the future, and the desire to take over the throne after Therese Johaug.

Photo: Jon Olav Nesvold/Bildbyrån

Frida Karlsson speaks out about the collapse during the Olympics in Beijing.

Frida Karlsson is still only 22 years old, but she has already had to bear an entire country’s expectations during the Beijing Olympics.

Ahead of the Olympics in Beijing, Frida Karlsson felt in great shape. But in the Games, nothing went smoothly. The 22-year-old who had beaten Therese Johaug twice at the start of the season was a shadow of herself.

In the first race, a 15km skiathlon, Karlsson came fifth but a long way behind the winner Therese Johaug and completely exhausted. In the 10km classic a few days later, she was number 12, almost a minute and a half behind Johaug, and collapsed after the finish line. At the Olympic relay, where Sweden took bronze, she collapsed again. It was her last race at the Beijing Olympics. She did not compete in the 30km on the last day of the Olympics. 

“I was so down, mainly physically,” says Karlsson to Expressen and continues: 

“I was completely exhausted. But still, I went all the time thinking that “I’ll take the next race,” and I thought I could do it. But the body did not respond at all.” 

Hard training + altitude = brutal

Now that Karlsson has the Olympic nightmare from a distance, she sees what happened at the high altitude in Zhangjiakou, where cross-country skiing was held during the Olympics.

“I trained very hard for the Olympics. I was in such good shape at the start of the season, and I thought I still had a little more to go, so I put extra gear in training. The hard training combined with the extreme altitude was a lesson for me. I probably crossed the line,” says Karlsson. 

After the 2022 Olympic season, Sweden’s ski star Frida Karlsson chose to be outside the national team, and she is now aiming for the 2023 World Championships in Planica, where she wants revenge.

Both Charlotte Kalla and Therese Johaug retired after the 2022 Olympic season. For Karlsson, Kalla was a role model and someone she would miss on the team. Johaug was the cross-country queen. Now that throne is vacant, and Karlsson wants to take it over. 

“That is what I work for. I must say that I believe in what I do. I believe in myself and feel confident in that,” says Karlsson. 

At the same time, she admits that she will miss Therese Johaug. 

“Therese is the best of all time, so that it will be strange without her. She has always been a benchmark for me,” says Frida Karlsson. 

Karlsson is one of the few cross-country skiers who has beaten Therese Johaug in the World Cup. She has done those three times: The first time was in the 30km race in Holmenkollen in March 2020, on Johaug’s home track. Last winter, she first beat Johaug in the 10km classic during the World Cup opening in Ruka and then in the 10km freestyle the following week in Lillehammer. 

“It has been very special to chase her. It has felt impossible to beat her, but I have been given the chance to do so.” 

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