Kristina Strandberg skis for the Saab Salomon Factory Team
I’m sure you’ve heard the Johnny Cash song that goes “I’ve been everywhere, man, I’ve been everywhere…” That is how I feel in April after the ski season has ended. After five months of racing, bouncing around the country by both planes and cars. Starting with the SuperTour premier in West Yellowstone, then going to Silver Star, to Anchorage, to the West, to the East, to the Midwest, to Europe and finally to Fairbanks and the SuperTour conclusion.
Now that it is all over and my vacation has just started I can look back at the season with a bit of perspective. At the lowest point, after the first few races in Canada I wanted to quit the season. It was the feeling I had right after the race and it soon passed, but some questions lingered; did I train enough? did I train right? So, at the end of the week everything came together and I won the 10 km classic race – it is fascinating that the difference between a good and a bad race is sometimes just one night’s sleep. It is not always about fitness, training plans or race preparations, it’s about… I don’t even know! One day you just don’t have it, the next day you’re on. The ups and downs, the peaks and valleys of ski racing can happen fast and for reasons we never really figure out. And this, to me, is fascinating.
This season’s high point came in earning a start spot in the spring World Cup for leading the SuperTour. I got to race in Lahti, Finland, and Trondheim, Norway. As a young skier in Sweden, my big dream was to put on the blue and yellow ski suit and represent my country internationally. It is hard to put into worlds how good it felt to finally have this dream come true. Passing hoards of spectators all cheering “Hejja Sverige!” (go Sweden) was an experience I’ll never forget. It was incredibly inspiring and one thing I knew for certain, I had to do it again. I learned a lot from the two WC races I did. It was a great opportunity to compare myself to the best skiers in the world and it made it easier to identify key areas where I have to improve. My hope is to return to international racing next fall stronger and more competitive.
The race season is long and it is hard to stay on top for the entire five months. Many things can happen as the winter goes by. Staying healthy is one of the most important things for a skier, and it sometimes seems like one of the hardest. Especially when we race hard, travel a lot and meet lots of people. I was really disappointed when I got sick one week before the National Championships in Anchorage in January. I had done everything in my power to stay healthy. I had rested, eaten well, washed my hands excessively… All in vain, it finally happened, I got a cold. I recovered in time to race, but my preparations for these important races were far from good and the results mediocre. Much like after my bad races in Canada early in the season, I felt frustrated and disappointed. One thing was different this time though, before getting sick I had raced well and proven to myself that I was capable of skiing well. I regrouped and threw myself onto the SuperTour with confidence.
Before the season started I sat down and wrote down my goals for the winter. This is something I’ve done for the last few seasons and my success rate has varied. This year I have all the reasons to be happy with myself since I met all three of my big goals: winning the overall SuperTour, winning a National Championship and getting out on the WC. I worked very hard and seeing the progress I was hoping for is a sweet reward. My goals for next season are already forming in my head and I know that I have a lot of hard work in front of me I want to achieve them. It’s only April and I’m already looking forward to getting the training season started!