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Marcus Grate: “Like Climbing A Ladder”

A few months ago, the Swedish Marcus Grate felt he was in his “worst shape ever.” Now, the national team sprinter is on his way back: “It’s been like climbing a ladder; to take one step at a time.”

Photo: Johanna Wallen/Bildbyrån

Marcus Grate during a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

Last Tuesday, the Swedish cross-country skiing team had a press conference in Stockholm. About five months earlier, sprinter Marcus Grate stood in the same place and said he felt he was in his “worst shape ever,” this after a difficult season.

“I had three colds, followed by Covid and then flu. When I was sick for ten days during Christmas and New Year, I felt those real top positions slip out of my hands. I got healthy but went straight up to high altitude without gaining any real training base, which was tough on the body. Then I was in terrible shape during the entire pre-camp, and it didn’t let me up until I got to the Olympic village, where I found something and made the most of the Olympics. I made it to the quarters and was close to the semis, and if you go to the semis, you might as well make it to the finals. But there were too many crisis solutions throughout the season for it to go all the way,” Grate said in May.

Now Grate is heading into a new season:

“It has been a long way back. It has taken time. And it has been like climbing a ladder. I have had to take one step at a time and trust it will be fine. But now I feel stronger than before,” he said during Tuesday’s press conference.

“My focus has been on running tough intervals. This is to increase capacity and oxygen uptake. I want to be able to stand in a final and feel that it will be really hard, but I know I can handle it.”

Last week, the Swedish sprint men were on a training camp in Falun. A couple of weeks earlier, they were on the World Championships site in Planica, Slovenia.

Men’s coach Anders Högberg explains the background to running separate sprint camps as follows:

“It was an idea that emerged during the spring. We saw last season that many of our men sprinters made it to the quarterfinals. But many times, it stopped there. We didn’t reach the semifinals and finals to the extent we wanted. It felt like we needed to do something. Therefore, it feels right that, now that the season is approaching, to run a camp where we can turn up the speed and run more sprint-oriented training. There will be more lactate and shorter intervals at these camps,” says Högberg.

The World Championships will be held in Planica, and Grate has fond memories from the place with his third-best individual placing in the World Cup (he was seventh in December 2019).

“It was good to be there, and the sprint track feels good to me. It’s an easy first part, then there’s a tough middle part, and then a finish with a lot of speed and technical parts. I am very much looking forward to working towards the sprint at the World Championships,” says Grate.

The World Championships sprint will be decided on February 23 in classic style, and the team sprint in freestyle technique on February 26, 2023. See the World Championships program here

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