Thea Krokan Murud (NOR) has impressed with several top 20 finishes at the World Cup this season. Photo: Nordic Focus

Thea Krokan Murud (NOR) has impressed with several top-20 finishes at the World Cup. Photo: Nordic Focus

Thea Murud (NOR) went all in on her first international World Cup, and was rewarded with three more races on the spot.

The rookie was 11th in the FIS World Cup skate sprint in Davos (SUI) on Saturday, December 9, and 19th in the 10km skate race on Sunday, December 10.

“It was really hard. In the sprint, my muscles were so full of lactic acid that I almost came to a grinding stop and I felt like I was about to pass out,” Thea Murud said after the Davos weekend.

However, the 23-year-old impressed the coaches so much she was immediately picked for the next races, which took place in Toblach (ITA) December 16 and 17.

“I was really surprised to be picked for anything other than the sprint. When I traveled to Davos, I had packed for two nights and only skate equipment, but suddenly I was going to be away for over a week. I didn’t have enough clothes, and I had no classic skis or classic boots. But we managed to get it all shipped anyway,” Murud says with a laugh.

At the 10km classic pursuit in Toblach on December 17, Murud advanced to 19th place, moving up from 33rd place after the 10km skate the day before.

Meet the 23-year-old Norwegian power pack from Søre Ål near Lillehammer, who is named as one of the rising stars at the World Cup.

“Thea impressed us in Davos, and that’s why we picked her for the next world Cup round in Toblach this weekend. She is an exciting young racer who has improved significantly this season,” said the Norwegian National Team Director Vidar Løfshus as he presented the Toblach World Cup team on December 11.

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09.12.2017, Davos, Switzerland (SUI): Thea Krokan Murud (NOR), Yulia Belorukova (RUS), (l-r) - FIS world cup cross-country, individual sprint, Davos (SUI). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.

Thea Krokan Murud was 11th at the skate sprint in Davos (SUI) on December 9. Photo: Nordic Focus

What was it like to ski your first World Cup outside of Norway and the national quota?
“This was my first international World Cup, and my first skate races at the World Cup level. I wasn’t expecting to be picked for the World Cup at all, so it was really exciting to travel to Davos with the national team. I flew in the day before the race, and I definitely felt the altitude (1560 meters above sea level). During the skate sprint, I had so much lactic acid in my muscles and the thin air made it impossible to recover. I almost came to a grinding stop and I felt like I was about to pass out. So I was really happy just to make it through the qualifiers. I also didn’t expect to ski the 10km skate race the next day, so when they told me that after the sprint race, I was almost thinking ‘Oh no, do I really have to?’ But of course, I was really excited too. This is what I train for every day of the year. And it turned out at that altitude the distance race was much easier than the skate race.”

The National Team Director points out that you have made a lot of progress: What have you done differently coming into this season?
“I don’t feel like I’ve done much different. I have worked consistently for years, and I feel like it pays off now. The past couple of years, I’ve worked specifically on strength, especially upper body and arm strength, and I’ve done a lot of plyometrics. Now I see the results of more strength overall.

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Thea Krokan Murud leading the pack during the sprint World Cup in Lillehammer (NOR) on December 2. Photo: Nordic Focus

Thea Krokan Murud leading the pack at the World Cup in Lillehammer on December 2. Photo: Nordic Focus

What are your goals for the 2017-18 season?
“My overall goal for the season was to ski fast in the Scandinavian Cup races and do well at the Norwegian National Championships in January. But now that I was suddenly picked for the international World Cup events in Davos and Toblach, my goal changed a bit. I wanted to ski fast at those World Cups, but of course I still want to ski fast at the nationals and in the Scandinavian Cups too.”

What is the ultimate career goal, and how far off do you think that is?
“I want to earn a medal for Norway at the Olympics. The best skiers in the world are really fast, but after these World Cups, I don’t feel like it’s off limits. However, I have to be patient. I have a lot of areas to improve on, both in terms of technique, strength and pure capacity. That’s what makes this so motivating.”

While the Davos World Cup races on December 9 and 10 were Murud’s first international World Cups, Murud is not entirely new to international racing. In January 2017, she won the silver medal in the classic sprint competition at the FIS U23 World Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah (USA), and at the Lillehammer World Cup races on December 2nd she was 10th in the classic sprint.

Name: Thea Krokan Murud
Birthday: 6. juni 1994
Club: Søre Ål IL
Team: Team Veidekke Innlandet
World Cup starts: 8
Top World Cup result: 10 (klassisk sprint på Lillehammer 2.desember 2017)
Other internatonal results: Silver at the FIS U23 World Championships i Soldier Hollow (Utah) USA (January 31, 2017)
First World Cup start: Classic sprint in Drammen (NOR) on March 11, 2015