By Johan Trygg
More and more girls are entering the Pro Teams in Visma Ski Classics. One that makes a very exciting debut season this winter is Magdalena Pajala, Team Serneke.
Magdalena from Piteå in northern Sweden has a background as a World Cup sprinter and has participated at both the Olympics and World Championships and won the Swedish Championship in sprint. Now the 31-year-old has full focus on Visma Ski Classics.
Magdalena competed for Sweden at both the 2013 World Championships in Val di Fiemme and the World Championships in Falun 2015. But already in 2010, she had her best season when she was 10th at the Olympic sprint in Vancouver and was part of the Swedish relay team, which finished fifth. That same winter she also won gold at the sprint at the Swedish Championships in her home town of Piteå.
“Those are nice memories, especially the 2010 season,” Magdalena says with a wistful tone in her voice.
Just two years ago, Magdalena gave birth to her daughter Elsa. Since then, Magdalena has not competed so much, but last winter she tested her capacity in some local long-distance races and felt that something was right.
“Especially, it was so much fun. I enjoy mass starts and I like competitions where both elite and recreational skiers start together. It builds a lovely atmosphere,” she says enthusiastically.
Her thoughts started to mold into a real effort for long-distance skiing, and Magdalena started looking around for a team and was told to check out Team Serneke.
“It was a direct and positive contact right away, and it is fantastic that they were confident to have me in Serneke. In addition to the support I receive from the team, it has been very valuable to be able to be together with talented long-distance skiers who generously share their knowledge and experiences.”
In fact, Magdalena really comes in as a "beginner" in the Visma Ski Classics circus.
Last year, she won the 40-kilometer Kronanloppet in Luleå a minute before Sofia Lindberg (who skies for Team Igne this winter). But she did not race only with double poling.
“I haven't skied any race with only double poling so far. So, this will be a new challenge for me this winter”.
In the summer and autumn, however, her training has had a different focus than before. There has been a lot of double poling on roller skis as well as running and considerably more strength training than before. In the summer, she was also provided with a skiergo, and she has been able to practice double poling indoors at home.
A few days ago, Magdalena was training on snow in Gällivare about 270 km north of Piteå.
“One day I started intervals with grip wax and then changed skis and double poled. It felt really good as I got further on the double poling intervals.”
Since this fall, her daughter Elsa has started at Kinder Garden and for Magdalena it is now a full-time job preparing for Visma Ski Classics. It is possible through some of her own sponsors, the support of her husband Mattias and that she got a place in Team Serneke.
Magdalena's plan is to go all races in Visma Ski Classics this winter.
“I don't know what results to expect. It will be a fun adventure and I look forward to coming to all the fine racing venues. My previous experience is that I get better and better with more competitions. So, it will be fun to have another chance, weekend after weekend this winter. I look forward to developing in this fantastic environment. I am also very much looking forward to Vasaloppet, which I have followed since I was a little child.”
This is what Martin Holmstrand, Team Manager at Team Serneke, says about Magdalena:
“It will be very interesting to see what Magdalena can do. She has been training very well and much better than in recent years. She has the speed and you can see from her movement pattern that she is technically very well educated. Then you have to accept that it can take a season to get the needed routine and learn how to race in long-distance skiing”.