Invild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) is both Olympic and World Champion in cross-country skiing, but also helped her soccer team advance to the first division. Photo: Nordic Focus

Invild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) is both Olympic and World Champion in cross-country skiing, but also helped her soccer team advance to the first division. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) says that if she doesn’t ski fast enough in the winter, it’s because she hasn’t played enough soccer in the spring and summer.

The multitalented 24-year-old cross-country skier helped her hometown soccer team advance to the first division this season. But while Oestberg loves the game and will gladly continue with the team next season if given the opportunity, she is doubtful that her team needs her service.

“I think they need something more than a cross-country skier when they will compete in the first division, but if they ask me again, I certainly cant say no,” Oestberg said to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten during a training camp in Italy this week.

Can’t kick the habit
While Oestberg is both Olympic and World Champion in cross-country skiing, soccer has always been an important part of her life. For years, Oestberg continued to focus equally much on both skiing and soccer. But when she was 18 or 19 years old, she thought she was done with the ball and would focus entirely on cross-country skiing. But she just couldn’t kick the habit.

“I thought I had played my last game at 18 or 19. Then, when spring rolled around again, I just couldn’t give it up. But I have to admit I put less emphasis on it each year,” Oestberg said, explaining that combining the two sports is no easy task.

She finds it easier to include soccer early in the dryland season, through the spring and early summer, prior to the high-volume months of the cross-country preseason.

“I’ve told several people that if I don’t ski fast this winter, it’s because I didn’t get to play enough soccer in the spring and summer,” said Oestberg, adding that she’s curious about the upcoming season.

“I’ve trained really well this summer and fall, and put in a lot of volume, so I hope I’ll be able to perform well in both sprint and distance events this season. I’ve improved a lot and taken some giant steps the last two seasons, so I’m curious to see if I can follow the same trajectory this year. But I believe I’m well prepared,” she said.

Not alone
Oestberg’s success on multiple arenas is hardly unique among the best World Cup skiers. Several of her fellow Madshus racers are accomplished competitors in summer sports: Heidi Weng (NOR) also loves competing in the summer, and is the national champion of uphill trail running.

Kristin Stoermer Steira (NOR), who retired from World Cup racing after the 2015 season, also competed in track and field events, and has been among the top 10.000-meter runners in Norway for several years. This fall, Steira became the Norwegian champion of cross-country running, and is tempted to try out for the 2016 European Championships in Track and Field, she says to the Norwegian broadcaster TV2.