SØREENGA (VG) After nearly three difficult years in and out of the cross country circus, arrows are pointing in the right direction for Ingvild Flugstad stberg (31). But the first months of the season also offer a lot of headaches and difficult dilemmas.
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– Strange in many ways. And sad and sad. I miss the people and the team. “But I don’t feel sorry for myself,” said Stberg of the first two months out of the national team.
– You feel like you should be there. But I have to try to think as most people say: Now I have to take more ownership of my own plans. And I have one trainer and train with a number of. It’s important not to be a loner on his own hamster wheel who doesn’t see his own best interests at heart.
– It hurts him
He has agreed to VG’s request for an interview in the middle of summer training in Oslo. Due to a lack of parking space, the 31-year-old from Gjøvik took a bus from Holmenkollåsen to the asphalt forest in the city center.
Bread, porridge, bananas and energy drinks have been replaced on rare occasions with grilled eggplant, sandwiches with Ibérico meat and a bottle of fermented tea.
– I don’t do this often, grinning stberg.
There’s a little more seriousness in May. It is clear that he is not getting a place in the national team next season.
The long rest as a result of his health situation in recent years made it difficult. He understood that too.
The list of everything he had to prepare as an accidental private team runner was long. But the most important thing, which will ensure progress related to sports and health, he has done.
In the team, he has a doctor, a nutritionist Olympiatoppen and a psychiatrist, not least the famous Pål Gunnar Mikkelsplass as a coach – former coach Johaug.
The person who followed his situation most closely was his girlfriend of 11 years.
– He thought it was hard. It hurts me and it hurts him.
Christoffer Rukke was a top-level skater and quit in 2019. He has since taken up civil work, but is still an important sparring partner for cross-country profiles.
– He has seen how much I want him. How much I have worked for it and dedicated, but still receive the messages I received along the way. He wants to contribute and help me. He asked “what can I do?”, Stberg said and smiled.
– I replied that “You can’t finish anything. I’m the one who hasn’t achieved what I should have been”. This is frustrating. It’s crazy to think how much effort I put into this and get nothing. But he has supported me all the way and worries that I made the right choice.
“Go to the basement”
He says same goes for family. They are sad when things go wrong and happy for him when everything is going well.
– Mom said that “I would go to the basement if I were you. I don’t understand where you got your motivation from”. It wasn’t easy in the last two years, but they supported me and defended me.
– At the same time, I have done more than most people can dream of. I’m proud of that. But I don’t want the last two years to define me. I will fight.
– Did I make a choice because I have no other job?
Since May, he has trained a bit with Therese Johaug, Marit Bjørgen, other athletes of the national team and participated in meetings with the Mikkelsplass coaching club.
And where stberg isn’t used to bragging about himself, Mikkelsplass can report a fine form. He himself is content to say that the tests are where they should be the next few months.
According to Stberg, the health follow-up also went according to plan. The goal is to have fun on the road and be freed to ski in the winter. But this is work that has to be done over a long period of time and very careful with the balance between recovery, exercise and nutrition.
After more than two difficult years, with few races, several days of gathering with the national team and a very uncertain health situation, VG asked if he really had another calling in life, or if it was actually another alternative to cross-country skiing. .
– That’s important to know. Did I make this choice because I had nothing else to do? But I have nothing more that I want. I’m not too stressed about it either. Maybe I was naive, he said at first.
– But not like that. I really realized that my dad wanted to be in the races and perform. There is a risk that I am not where I want to be. But being “back there” for a long time is not interesting.
– Not fun to call
Along the way, he had done things he didn’t really like. After all, the stakes have to roll.
Sources of income for skiers in Norway are mostly prize money or personal sponsorship. In interviews with VG and several other media outlets a few months ago, this part was out of place.
– I don’t want to whine and complain. But it was harder than I expected, Stberg admitted today.
He said he knew it would be a challenge and difficult.
– But I hope it will open a thing or two to make things easier. I’ve tried, but it’s no fun calling on your own behalf. It’s been tiring. I also lost some of the ones I had. It’s not happening right now, but I have hope.
He understands that businesses and companies have different priorities.
Such as providing assistance to Ukraine, to other parts of the sport such as track and field. He also pointed out that for years there was uncertainty over whether he would be allowed to cross-country skiing, but the hope now is that several sub-sponsors and major sponsors will join him on his return journey to the top of the world.
Therefore, he had to consider the offer from the team.
– No alternative
Billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke of the company Aker, cross-country ski legend and property millionaire Bjørn Dæhlie and his brand recently joined as sponsors of the private venture Team Aker/Dæhlie.
– I’m in talks with them. This is a very professional setting. I know they’re doing things right and that’s exciting. But I don’t think it’s right for me to say yes to being one hundred percent part of the team, Stberg said and elaborated:
– Because maybe I can’t attend all the meetings because of my health. Then I fought with my conscience again, as I did in recent years in the national team. Then there is no alternative.
Can’t promise anything
In the end, the goal is to stand at the starting line and fight to win the ski race.
– I have a good feeling. Then I want to promise myself and everyone that this will work. That it’s one hundred percent certain. That it was nailed and hammered in the rock. But, I can not.
– The goal is to be at the beginning, but once I’m there, I want to fight to win the ski race. That’s where I put the list, says Ingvild Flugstad stberg.
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