Never waste an opportunity to improve

Never waste an opportunity to improve

“I hang onto the national team veterans on every workout, try to pick up on their technique and listen in to what they’re talking about,” Harald Østberg Amundsen says.

The Norwegian national team rookie never wastes an opportunity to learn from the best on his quest to become the best in the world. Amundsen was on the podium in every event at the FIS U23 World Championships in Oberwiesenthal (GER) this winter, taking home no less than four medals including two gold medals.

Shifting the overall season focus
One of Amundsen’s World Championships medals was a gold from the 30km skate: the one event that had been his main goal for the entire season, the one race he had in the back of his mind on every workout throughout the summer, fall and winter leading up to the World Championships in March.

For Amundsen, having that specific overall goal was a major motivation in his training. Every workout on the schedule was designed to make him better equipped for the 30km skate race on the Oberwiesenthal trails. He had tailored his training plan to peak for that race, on that specific day.

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Harald Østberg Amundsen dominated the 30km skate race at the 2020 U23 World Championships, the race that had been his main focus for nearly a year . Photo: @flyingpointroad.com

This season is different. After being named to the national team for the 2020-21 season, Amundsen doesn’t have a specific event as the main season goal. This year, he is aiming for the World Cup season as a whole, and he feels less of a need to put all his effort into peaking for one specific event.

“My season goal is to compete at as many World Cup races as possible, and I hope I can be in the mix for the team that is named to the 2021 FIS Nordic World Championships in Germany in February and March,” says Amundsen, adding that being picked for the World Championships skate races would be a dream come true.

“The 15-kilometer and the 30-kilometer skate races and the 15+15-kilometer skiathlon race are natural goals for me. But in order to get there, I need to ski well at all the World Cup events early in the season, so those races are my main focus right now,” the ambitious 21-year-old says.

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Harald Østberg Amundsen (in the front) on a roller ski workout in northern Norway this summer. Photo: Marthe Karlsen

Soaking up the know-how
“Now that I’m on the national team, I’m in an entirely different situation than I was leading up to last season. Even though I’m on the development team, we train a lot with the elite national team both regular workouts and team camps, and I feel like they’re eager to share their experience and knowledge,” Amundsen says.

He doesn’t waste a single opportunity to soak up the golden nuggets.

“I try to figure out how they train in general and how they solve different challenges along the way. I hang onto the tails of their skis and observe, and I listen in to what they talk about on the long-distance workouts,” says Amundsen, noting that you need to be curious and open-minded in order to progress.

“I soak up all the feedback I get. I ask them if there is anything I’m curious about, or if I wonder why they do things a specific way. I feel that they are happy to answer and eager to share their experience, insights and knowledge, and their input spurs a thought process in my mind,” Amundsen explains.

“I know that I’m training with athletes who are the very best in the world, who have medals from all the big international championships. They are definitely a level up from where I’m at right now, but I try to chase them the best I can, and I’m excited for the upcoming race season,” he says.

So, you don’t talk about women on your long workouts with the A-team?
“Ha ha, no. Most of the guys on the A-team have wives and kids at home already, so that’s more of a topic when it’s just us guys on the development.”

QUICK FACTS: HARALD ØSTBERG AMUNDSEN
Born: September 18, 1998
From: Asker, Norway
Life: Full-time cross-country skier, studies business part-time (as long as it doesn’t interfere with training and racing)
Club: Asker SK
Team: Norwegian national development team
Selected merits:
U23 World Championships:
2 gold (30km F – 2020, relay – 2020),
1 silver (15km C – 2020),
1 bronze (sprint F – 2020)
National championships: 1 silver (15km F – 2020)
Junior World Championships: 3 gold (Skiathlon 10/10km – 2017, relay – 2017, 2018), 1 bronze (Skiathlon 10/10km – 2018)
First World Cup:
December 8, 2018 (30km F)

Harald Østberg Amundsen at the FIS U23 World Championships 2020 in March. Photo: flyingpointroad.com