By Johan Trygg
Stian Hoelgaard, Team Koteng, has been on the podium in Vasaloppet for the past five years. In season X he seemed like a winner on the final stretch but was passed by Petter Eliassen just before the finish line.
“The dream is to win Vasaloppet, but it is the most difficult race to win,” says the 28-year-old Norwegian.
When season X ended so abruptly, it became a different spring for many athletes, also for Stina Hoelgaard. He took a more extended break from training than usual for him.
“I started training a little late. I felt I needed to rest and recharge my batteries. But now I am well on my way again, says Hoelagaard.
He was not happy with season VIII and season IX and changed a bit in his training plan ahead of season X, which gave good results.
What was the difference?
“It is always difficult to say what different things depend on. Factors such as diet and rest come into play in addition to the total amount of training. But maybe I have learned to hold back a little in the summer and not train too hard then, to hold back a little on the tougher workouts. There is a long way to go until season XI starts.”
Hoelgaard can look back at a successful season X. He was in the top ten in all races and so close to a victory in Vasaloppet. With the finish line in sight, Petter Eliassen, Team Ragde Eiendom, passed him with a few meters.
“I have thought a lot about that this moment. I will never forget it and it’s something I have to live with. Of course, it was sad for me, but I did everything I could. Petter was stronger than me that day.”
Stian has eleven podium places in Ski Classics since he finished third at Maricalonga 2016. Vasaloppet has become kind of his specialty. His race results in the last five years are; 2, 3, 3, 2, 2.
When will you get to step on top of the podium?
It´s hard to say. If you want to win a race, everything must work 100%.”
Which race do you prefer to win?
“It’s an easy choice. The dream is to win Vasaloppet. But it is the most difficult race to win. Everyone is in shape. There are so many factors, and you cannot control them all yourself.”
During the summer, Stian is training a lot by himself. The other athletes in Team Koteng are based in Trondheim while he lives in Oslo.
“This year, with the special conditions and no regular roller ski competitions, I will train a lot by myself. But this fall, I hope to meet my teammates. It will hopefully be a trip to the ski tunnel in Torsby, Sweden, a roller ski training camp in Mallorca and a trip up to Trondheim.”
There is a 100% focus on skiing for Stian since he finished his economics studies in 2018. We will see if it can lead him to his first victory in a Ski Classics event.
Team Koteng’s Pro Team Director Tore Björseth Berdal put his own skis on the shelf this spring but continues to lead the Pro Team. Berdal, who took two victories in his career; Vasaloppet 2019 and Marcialonga 2020. Maybe it’s Hoelgaard’s time to win one of these races in season XI.
“It’s sad that Tore will not compete anymore. But he is our boss and can share his experience. Tore is a good man,” concludes Hoelgaaard.