Meet Elena Rise Johnsen: young, hungry and seriously fast

Meet Elena Rise Johnsen: young, hungry and seriously fast

The talented young sprint racer from Norway crushed the established World Cup elite at the roller ski festival Toppidrettsveka 2021 last month.

Elena Rise Johnsen became the undisputed star of this year’s summer ski festival Toppidrettsveka when she was on the podium in three of the four events in the 3-day competition, as well as winning the overall 4-event series: She was second in the uphill skate race, second in the sprint qualifier, she won every heat including the final in the sprint, and she won the final 15-kilolighrtmeter race.

What does the success at Toppidrettsveka mean to you?
“Well, my main goal is to be fast in ski races. But winning roller ski races like these events at Toppidrettsveka is a good yardstick and tells me that what I’ve been doing so far is working, and that I can continue with my overall training plan leading up to the season openers in November,” Rise Johnsen says.

But just how did she get so fast?
The 21-year-old from Asker credits it to technique: Rise Johnsen skis strong, elegantly and incredibly efficient. That it well known among her competitors.

“It’s true that a lot of skiers commend me on my technique after races, and that’s really nice. At practice, most of the feedback is about what I need to change or improve,” says Rise Johnsen.

3 keys to rock solid technique
Rise Johnsen says she doesn’t think she spends more time than others focusing on technique. For her, technique is simply an integrated part of cross-country skiing. However, she identifies three keys to rock solid technique: Highspeed training, boys and frequency.

  1. Highspeed training
    Rise Johnsen loves skiing fast, and exploits every opportunity to speed up her pace.

“I think skiing a lot at high speed is a major contributor to good technique. I put in speed surges all the time, especially on downhills and easy terrain. That forces me to slow down the turnover, really focus on each push and getting all my power into that push in order to generate as much speed as possible,” she explains.

  1. Boys
    Rise Johnsen is convinced that training with the boys all the time is an important factor for her efficient technique. “I learn a lot from skiing behind the boys and observing how the ski in different parts of the course. I think a lot of female skiers have a lot gain from joining the boys more often,” she says.

“Most girls ski with other girls, especially as they get older. But the boys tend to be faster and frankly better. In my team, we are three girls and eight or nine guys, and we train with them all the time.”

  1. Frequency
    You get good at what you practice. Rise Johnsen argues that when it comes to technique, it’s important to grab every opportunity to focus on the right movements.

“I think every workout in principle is a technique session and an opportunity to hone my skills. So, if you look at it that way, I guess I do train technique a lot,” Rise Johnsen concludes.