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A Solid Start to the 2016 Season

Hans Christer Holund (NOR)
Hans Christer Holund (NOR)

Hans Christer Holund (NOR)

Madshus racers posted five podium finishes and a good number of strong performances during the FIS season opener in Beitostølen (NOR).

Heidi Weng (NOR) was second in the women’s 7.5-kilometer classic race on Friday. Hans Christer Holund (NOR) started his first season on the Norwegian national team with two podiums in a row: Third place in the 15-km classic on Friday, and second place in the 15-km skate on Saturday. Finally, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) and Pål Golberg (NOR) were second and third, respectively, in the classic sprint competitions on Sunday.

Complete results from the Beitostølen season opener 

“It was really fun to be on the podium today after skiing fast enough to be on the podium, not because someone faster than me was disqualified,” said Holund after the skate race on Saturday.

And although there was a 47-second gap up to Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who won 15-kilometer skate race, Holund is satisfied with his season opener.

“Martin (Johnsrud Sundby) is in a league of his own. I have never been even close to him in skate or classic. For me, it was great to feel that my body felt good and that I am able to ski fast again,” Holund said.

During an altitude camp with the national team recently in Val Senales, Italy, Holund was evacuated off the glacier during a workout. Holund felt weak even at the start of the workout, and it just got worse. Suddenly, he was gasping for air and struggling to stay conscious. He was airlifted to the hospital and underwent a battery of tests. Ultimately, doctors could not find anything wrong.

“I have to take their word for it, but I’m still curious given that it happened so suddenly and during an easy workout rather than while doing intervals,” Holund said to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. But Holund admits that it was a scary experience.

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Hans Christer Holund during the 15-kilometer skate race at Beitostølen on Saturday.

Hans Christer Holund during the 15-kilometer skate race at Beitostølen on Saturday.

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) opened the ski season with an impressive statement of her dryland training effort: She skied the women’s 7.5-kilometer course entirely without kick wax, and cruised into an impressive fifth place, as one of only four women opting for no kick.

“I am glad I did it and tried it. It was a combination of peer pressure and my own curiosity. It kind of feels like people wanted to sacrifice me to see if it could be done, and I had a chance to show that it is possible (to double-pole the whole course). It would have been even more fun if I could have been a few seconds faster and made it to the podium,” Østberg said, admitting that it was a spur of the moment decision.

At the very last minute before her start, she grabbed the skate skis and headed out.

“I don’t regret going all double-pole, but there were a couple of places on the course where I really would have loved to have some kick. I am a fan of traditional diagonal striding so I don’t really know why I did this. But it was kind of fun too,” the 25-year-old said after the race.

For the skate race the next day, Østberg commented that she was a bit more tired than expected and sore different places than normal, but despite the toll on her And by the end og the weekend, she moved on to the podium placing second in the classic sprint on Sunday.

Will she ditch the kick wax again?

“Maybe. But I doubt I will do this again in Kuusamo (at the FIS World Cup opener the last weekend in November). If I do, I am stupid,” she said with a big grin.

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Østberg Beito 680x

Heidi Weng opened her season with a strong second place in the 7.5-kilometer classic on Friday, and a fifth place in the skate race on the same course on Saturday.

Finally, Pål Golberg (NOR) was third in the classic sprint on Sunday, after leading the final heat most of the way through the course.

Furthermore, Oestberg, Weng and Golberg are all skiers who are known to race themselves into shape, so the season opener weekend was a strong statement of what’s to come.

No doubt, the skiers are looking forward to the 2016 FIS World Cup, which gets underway with a mini-tour in Kuusamo, Finland, November 27-29. Let the season begin!

Back to the Podium

Barbro Kvaale is sweeping up the roller ski victories this summer. Photo: Blink Summer Ski Festiva

Barbro Kvaale is sweeping up the roller ski victories this summer. Photo: Blink Summer Ski Festiva

Wednesday evening Barbro Kvaale won the Kirkebakken Grand Prix roller ski sprint in Hamar (NOR). This time she was followed by fellow Madshus racer Olympian and World Champion Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) in second place.

While Kvaale enjoys the roller ski races, she is quick to point out that the real test is on snow.

“This is just show and it’s fun, but what really matters is what happens on snow this winter,” the 23-year-old said to Norwegian news agency NTB after the race.

Read more about Kvaale’s clean sweep at the Blink Summer Ski Festival on July 31-August 1.

Additionally to being second in the individual the sprint, Oestberg won the mixed relay sprint the same evening. Oestberg, who won the team sprint at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (RUS) and the team sprint at the 2015 World Championships in Falun (SWE).

Kvaale had her major break-through last winter at the season opener at Beitostoelen (NOR), where she won the classic sprint race in a deep and competitive field. That victory opened the doors for World Cup races that season, and Kvaale is eager to be back this winter.

The Season is ON

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen at the Blink Summer Ski Festival 2012. Photo: Blink
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen at the Blink Summer Ski Festival 2012. Photo: Blink

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen at the Blink Summer Ski Festival 2012. Photo: Blink

The Blink Summer Ski Festival features the strongest biathlon field ever in the history of the event, as well as a solid international field for the XC events.

Madshus biathletes Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Emil Hegle Svendsen will face the toughest racers in the world at the annual Blink Summer Ski Festival in Sandnes, Norway, July 30-August 1, which is featuring the strongest field ever.

2015 marks the 10th anniversary for the Blink Summer Ski Festival, and last year, the uphill time trial that kicks off the event drew more than 700 racers. This year, World Cup racers from France, Japan, Great Britain, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Russia, Canada and Germany are registered for the races, in addition to Norway.

French Martin Fourcade (FRA) is bringing the entire French national team to the races, Arndt Pfeiffer and Daniel Böhm of Germany as well as North American racers Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke and Nathan Smith are also on the start list. The biathlon program includes shooting duels and mass starts for men and women on July 31, and super sprint races on August 1.

For the Norwegian biathletes, the Blink Ski Festival is a part of the national team season preparations, gearing up for the 2016 IBU World Championships on home turf in Oslo March 3-13, 2016.

Complete start list biathlon

In addition to the biathlon competitions, there are several cross-country races as well. The uphill time trial Lysebotn Opp features a grueling 7.5-kilometer course with a total of 640 meters elevation gain. Many of the biathletes also race in the uphill time trial, adding depth to the already impressive field of XC skiers.

Also, there are two other XC races at the Blink Festival: a mass start distance race for the cross-country skiers, featuring 10km skate for women and 15km skate for men on July 31, as well as sprint races in Sandnes city center on August 1. Madshus racers Heidi Weng (NOR), Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), Krista Parmakoski (FIN), Barbro Kvaale (NOR) and Oeystein Pettersen (NOR) are among the favorites on the start lists.

Complete start list XC

More about the 2015 Blink Summer Ski Festival 

Lysebotn Opp race course. Photo: NSF

Lysebotn Opp race course. Photo: NSF

Team Madshus: Amazing opportunity

Norwegian skiers Ingeranne Strøm Nakstad and Morten Teksnes were both named to the new elite development project Team Madshus Norway for the upcoming season. The young skiers told during the season kick-off that they are grateful for the opportunity to pursue their dreams and careers with the support of Madshus.

The last weekend in September marked the official kickoff for the team, with project mentors Thomas Alsgaard, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Kristin Størmer Steira on site to disperse nuggets of their experiences from the World Cup circuit.

“It was really interesting to hear Thomas and Ole Einar talk about their road to the top,” Nakstad said to Norwegian web site “But it was also really fun to do an overdistance running workout with Ingvild and Kristin,” she added.

Nakstad is excited about Team Madshus Norway and explains that it makes a huge difference in her ability to chase her dream of one day being the best in the world. “It is really great. I get a few good pairs of skis, lots of guidance and support. And having Ingvild as my personal mentor is hugely motivating. What she has accomplished as a junior is amazing,” the 17-year-old said to

For Morten Teksnes, the best part of the team kickoff in September was the long roller ski workout with Thomas Alsgaard.

“It was really fun to rollerski with Thomas Alsgaard. We did an easy distance skate workout with some speed surges toward the end,” Teksnes recalled, adding that Alsgaard also shared some technique pointers.

And Teksnes too is excited and motivated by the resources and support the project is putting into the next generation of elite skiers. “It is definitely motivating to be a part of the team. I get the best skis and equipment, and it is really cool that Madshus is backing us up so well. That is huge,” Teksnes said to

But the feelings go both ways. Team Madshus Norway coordinator Stian Grønås is impressed with the quality and attitudes of the 38 racers on the team. 34 of them made it to the team kick-off at Natrudstilen last month. He said the camp was a success, and that Team Madshus Norway is a win-win deal for both parts. For Madshus, one intention of the project is to establish brand loyalty with the young elite racers on the team. By sponsoring and supporting the young racers, Madshus hopes to win their loyalty and keep them in the family as they climb the ranks and throughout their careers. Thomas Alsgaard is a prime example:

“Thomas was something like 14 years old when he signed his first contract with Madshus, and he is still on Madshus skis,” Grønås pointed out to


Dreading to bungee jump

“I’m going to bungee jump this summer, and I have no idea why I agreed to do that, because I’m way too scared,” says Ingvild Flugstad Østberg of the Norwegian national cross-country team.

The Madshus racer promised a friend they would go do the bungee jump together this summer as a Christmas present, when summer seemed comfortably far away.

“But hopefully, it’ll be a little fun too. And I’d totally regret it if I chickened out,” she adds with a laugh.

Aside from the bungee jump trip, Østberg doesn’t have a lot of plans for the summer besides training on her own. There are no national team camps in July, so she will take the opportunity to be at home.

“I travel so much during the season,” she says. Østberg estimates she easily puts in 80 hours of training per month in June, July and August.

Overall, Østberg is pleased with her season.

“Of course, there were some ups and downs. But during Tour de Ski I had my first top-10 World Cup finish, and I was 14th overall. And then I was third in the sprint at nationals, behind Marit Bjørgen and Maiken Caspersen Falla. And I won the pursuit at the U23 Worlds,” Østberg says.

“There were some races that didn’t go so well, but this was my first season at the senior level, and you can’t expect to rule the course all the time. The margins are so small when you are competing with the best, and you can’t just play it safe and still expect to place well, like you can get away with sometimes at the junior level. I ski faster this year than I did last year, and that was my goal,” Østberg says.

Long term, Østberg has a lot of goals and ambition, but she realizes that she has to be patient.

“Sometime in the future I want to be the best in the world. But there is a long road ahead, there are no shortcuts, and I have to be patient. I see that Marit Bjørgen is at her peak right now, and she’s 10 years older than me,” Østberg says, noting that she’ll go after it step by step.

School: To study or not to study?

This spring, Østberg finished her Associates Degree in business at Gjøvik. She has gone to school part time for the past two years, and by the end of the summer she has to decide whether to stay in school and work toward a Bachelor Degree or take a season off. It’s a hard choice, she says.

“Right now I have to opportunity to see what it’s like to take a season off from school. You have to take some chances if you want to get better. I can always go back to school,” Østberg says. She explains that so often, girls want to do everything out of duty, and that sometimes she really likes having school, but there are definitely times when she wished she didn’t have to worry about it.

But right now, it’s summer, and she plans to enjoy it.

“I like relaxing in the sun and reading a book. I like hanging out with friends and not stress about anything. But I need variety, and sometimes I really want to do something too,” Østberg says.

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