By Teemu Virtanen
Season X presented many exceptionally great battles for those much sought-after podium places, for the Sprint and Climb competition points and for the victories in all categories. One of the intensely tight competitions was the Pro Team one.
Four Pro Teams were within 210 points, and they kept fighting tooth and nail throughout the season. Finally, Team Ragde Eiendom returned to glory after being away from the top spot for a year. Lager 157 Ski Team was second, and last season’s number one Team Koteng third. Team Ramudden surprised everyone and finished third, but they were followed by another “dark horse” Russian Winter Team.
Team Ragde Eiendom managed to get 12 podium places at nine events in Season X, of which three victories. The Director of the Pro Team Magnar Dalen is very pleased with the results even if the season didn’t start as they had hoped for. Naturally, the triple victory at Jizerska Padesatka and Eliassen’s Vasaloppet win were the highlights of the season for him and his team.
How would you summarize the season that was shorter than normally?
“It was a good season for us with many exciting races with full of action and many really thrilling fights to the finish. Plenty of new and young athletes got to the podium. The competitions for different jerseys were hot giving us extra excitement. We were also lucky with the snow situation on our race locations. In cases like Jizerska and Vasaloppet, the snow just arrived a few hours before the race. The abrupt end of season with Vasaloppet as the last race was a shock to all of us. We won the Yellow bib in the men’s and Pro Team competitions. I’m happy with that, but we would have liked it better if that had been the status after the whole season.”
What things do you need to improve for the next season and what is your goal?
“The need for improvement is, of course, individual from athlete to athlete. In general, our summer period could be better than last year. Our results in roller-ski races during the summer was worryingly bad. The goal for next season is to win races and jerseys.”
The fight in every category is getting harder every year - how would you analyze the competition that you faced this season?
“The fight is getting tighter and harder every year. It’s a good sign for our sport. And I think it will continue this way. This year, Team Ramudden and Russian Winter Team were able to come up with some strong new faces. This year, we along with Lager 157 and Koteng had the strongest teams, but Ramudden and Russia can be hard to beat and become real challengers.”
How would you like to develop the Pro Team competition and the Pro Tour?
“I am really happy with the Pro Tour. The people making this possible are doing a great job. With a limited number of staff, everything is working very well. Race directors, TDs, time keeping, team captains’ meetings, info, prize giving ceremonies, everything is very professional. I think we have seen great improvements every year. But I have one wish; to have our race courses prepared earlier. That means the race track should be ready by midnight. That would make us happy, and definitely all of the skiers behind our elite ones are going to be happier when the tracks are hard. The Pro Team competition is working well. Perhaps, we could add a possibility to take away the worst performance in all categories. This could help in eliminating possible sicknesses, material problems and other problems that we encounter during the season.”
You have an interesting team as you have a lot of experienced guys and then two young girls who performed really well this season. Can you elaborate on the chemistry within the team?
“All our skiers are adults in a sense that we can have open-minded discussions and share our thoughts and experiences. That includes our staff as well. To give, to take, and to share is always a good guideline to follow.”