Last week the FIS Cross-Country News had the possibility to speak with the Cross-Country Chief of the Norwegian Ski Association and former athlete, Age Skinstad, about his team and the upcoming season.CCN:
"Age Skinstad, after the last season you built up a new team support structure. What is new?"Age Skinstad:
"Actually we did not make many changes to the staff. We employed a new assistant coach, Per Oyvind Torvik, especially responsible for the technique in the sprint group. Vidar Lofshus, our assistant coach of the men's distance group, is now working 50 % as Sports Coordinator with focus on Vancouver. He is back to work after his cancer disease in the spring. Our main projects with focus on Vancouver 2010 are the development of the skis and equipment, the capacity of high altitude training and ski technique."CCN:
"What are you expectations for this season?"Age Skinstad:
"We fought often for podium places in the men's sprint and in the ladies' distance races last year. I hope and know that we are also able to take more top three positions in the men's distance races and ladies sprint competitions."CCN:
"What are your team goals for this season?"Age Skinstad:
"We would like to be the best Cross-Country nation. First of all at the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec, which means that we would like to win the most medals there. Then for sure we aim for the same on the FIS Tour de Ski and in the Cross-Country World Cup."CCN:
"Can you also tell us something about your athletes? Who made the biggest improvement during the summer?"Age Skinstad:
"With Anders Gloerson we had the Rookie of the Year and I'm sure he will be even stronger this year. Simen Oestensen had good results in the last two seasons and he was in a good shape in the summer. He will probably be the challenger for all the other top athletes especially on the Tour and the World Cup Final. On the women's side Therese Johaug will have her first year in the senior category. In the past two years, she was strong parallel both in the junior and senior championships and races. I expect that we will see on her results that she is now a real senior!"CCN:
"Who will be the main challenger(s) for your athletes?"Age Skinstad:
"Lukas Bauer (CZE) looks really strong again. I think that the other athletes need a 100% perfect race to beat Lukas. But also the rest of the Czech team improved a lot with having the overall World Cup winner on their team. Especially in relay races I expect them as a challenger for our team besides the teams from Sweden, Germany and Italy.
If Charlotta Kalla is continuing her progress as last year it will be difficult to beat her but for sure we have to have Virpi Kuitunen on our account in the classical technique."