By Teemu Virtanen
In the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour, the Climb competition was once again an exciting showcase of our skiers’ strength and capacity since sprinting after a long climb is not just a walk in the park for those who shoot for points. There were 10 Climb competition check points in nine events in Season X.
Morten Eide Pedersen, Team Kaffebryggeriet, and Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, were the strongest climbers of the season. They both are delighted to see various competition categories within the Pro Tour, and the Climb one is something that they value a great deal.
“I was really happy to see so many skiers showing interest in fighting for the points,” Eide Pedersen says and looks back on the season. “I think the competition for the Climb jerseys has a good place in Visma Ski Classics. It is part of almost every race and enhance the overall status. I think it works really well since we have Climb points in good and different spots in each race. Some of them are early on and some much later, but there’s always a great climb before the point.”
Johansson Norgren sounds as positive as her male counterpart and continues saying that it was a pleasure to take part in great fights for the “mountain queen” title.
“Of course, it was sad that our season got interrupted so dramatically as I would have been really eager to have more fights. There were still so many really tough climbs that we couldn’t do. I’m happy to see many skiers putting their focus on this competition. I’d like to see more prize money for those who win climbs in individual races.”
As Johansson Norgren mentions above, there were several hard climbs that didn’t take place this season due to the current situation in the world. Both winners are content with the fact that they didn’t get a chance to fight over the points in the remaining three races.
“I have been lucky this year,” Eide Pedersen admits. “After Vasaloppet, I had secured a good lead over Holmbeg and Eliassen. So, I could have been less offensive as I didn’t have the need for more points in the remaining races. I think I would have focused on the overall results and tried to get points in the yellow bib competition.”
“It’s really sad that we couldn’t race more,” Johansson Norgen adds. “But this is something we have to accept and move on. In this situation competitions mean very little.”
The Climb competition is really a demanding undertaking, but what kind of qualities and skills are needed when one is fighting for the “lumberjack jersey.”
”First, you must have a goal or desire to fight for that jersey,” Eide Pedersen quickly points out. “Otherwise,you need to possess good capacity and have a technique that is effective on uphills.”
Johansson Norgren also brings up the capacity as one of the key qualities for a climber and adds that one needs to be able to cope with long climbs and be mentally prepared for them.
Finally, what about defending the title and goals for the next season?
”Yellow jersey is, of course, the main goal next season as well as individual performances in the three major races,” Eide Pedersen claims with no hesitation. “I do not put much focus on defending the jersey, I take it a bit as it comes. But I am childish enough to not give up points for free. After all, I am constantly told that I use my energy doing the climbs, which means that I’m not able to succeed at the end. But I think that if I'm not good enough to do it, I'm not good enough to win either the race or the overall jersey. I will continue running the competitions that I want and enjoy, and I will win both individual races and jerseys to prove that it is fully possible.”
“This jersey means a lot to me, and I hope I can show that I’m capable of winning even if we have the three missing races and the whole season,” Johansson Norgren says confidently. “I’m now planning for the next season and figuring out what areas and things need to be improved.”