By Teemu Virtanen
One of the surprises in Kaiser Maximilian Lauf was Vetle Thyli’s great perfomance in the men’s race. This Team Kaffebryggeriet leader managed to keep up with the tough BN Bank guys and finished fourth. He is certainly a good candidate for podium places in La Diagonela, Switzerland, this Saturday.
But who is this Norwegian skier who has been around for years and has many solid performances under his belt? He is certainly no stranger to cross-country skiing as it has been in his life since he got out of his diapers. Let’s take a moment with Mr. Thyli as he reveals a little bit about himself in our Q&A session.
- What is your background? How did you end up becoming a skier and why?
I have always been interested in sports, and I have been skiing all my childhood. When I was about 18 years old, I decided to quit soccer playing and go for cross-country skiing. Since then, I have been determined to be a skier as long as I have the opportunity to live like I have been doing the last years.
- How and why did you choose long distance skiing?
My abilities in the longer races were the most important factor. I was also good at sprint in my younger days, but I find it more interesting and less stressful to do the longer races. After two top 10 places two years in a row in the 50 km in the Norwegian Championships, I decided to choose a series with races where I could show talent since there are only a couple of 50 km races in all-round skiing during the season.
- What are your training principles? Your is favorite workout?
You have to push your limits, and this year I have been doing some crazy workouts with my teammates I wasn’t able to complete last year. To summarize it shortly; my principle is to push your limits, but at the right pace. You have to be patient, and I have so many examples of both young and older skiers being too impatient, myself included. But I like to think that I have learned from my mistakes, and this year I hope I can show during the season that I have been wise and crazy at the same time when it comes to my training.
I have a lot of favorite workouts, but for different reasons. If I have to say one, I will have to say the tests at the lab, showing myself and the testers what I have achieved since the last time I was there. So, double poling on treadmill, testing my lactate threshold in 5 min on 6 % incline and increasing speed, is really exciting and is maybe the best workout for me to feel confident, and it also gives me a chance to correct my technique. When my lactate threshold is under 4.0 at the speed I’ve never been able to finish before and can finish the workout with some really hard bouts, it feels perfect.
- You've been a solid skier for long time, but in Kaiser Maximilian Lauf you were able to peek. How did that come about?
I have been in good shape for some weeks now, and the training has been really good all the way since June. I have been working really hard together with my teammates in Lillehammer. When I was able to beat several podium candidates right before New Year’s Eve, it boosted my confidence and gave me comfort. In the race, my skis were perfect, and I just decided to aim for the top 5. I was kind of surprised how the race developed from the start, and it was easier than I expected and I was able to get the best race of my career.
- What does this success mean to you?
Its kind of a cliché answer, but this success means everything. When you have been working so hard for such a long time, the feeling of realizing that you’ve beaten some really good skiers is so liberating, being able to keep up a good speed and to feel less pain than normally. That is the feeling I strive for in both races and training every day, so getting it done in a VSC-race is of course the best.
And of course, doing it now, with my own team that I have been working on for the last year, showing our sponsors that they made the right choice in supporting us, makes it even better. The motivation is rising within the whole team to keep this success going, and we will try our best to show that we are worthy of the last weekend’s results!
- What are your goals for the rest of the season?
Keep up the top 10 positions in as many races as possible, and then hopefully reach the podium during this season.
- Tell us about your team and what do you expect from them?
I started this project last year, making it possible for myself to still compete against the best. This spring, I was able to get another main sponsor in addition to the other ones, and getting a couple of teammates and a service team was really perfect for the team and myself. I know how hard we have been working this year, so my expectations are high. In terms of Magnus, I expect him to win the youth bib in Levi, about Torgeir S. Thygesen, I hope he will be back in shape after a long illness and do some top 10 races, and Stian Berg should be fighting for a top 5 spot in the sprint competition!
- What is your opinion about Visma Ski Classics and the evolution of long distance skiing?
Since I’ve joined VSC it has become much more professional, and I really like seeing what has been done to show more of the teams and the racers to the viewers and spectators. I am also a decent all-round skier, so for me it’s also fun to do a skating race this season. With the last couple of winters in mind, with the conditions, the tracks and the gradually larger and stronger start field, I have great hope for the long distance skiing in the years to come.
- What teams and athletes do see as your fiercest opponents?
The season so far has been dominated by the guys in BN Bank, and we are actually the only team having a top 4 spot so far other than BN, so they are, of course, the guys to beat. Based on the results so far, I think that only Gjerdalen, and maybe Chernousov, Berdal and Jespersen, can match Eliassen, Eide Pedersen and Østensen in the more hilly races. The next three races are, however, flatter, and the athletes like Nygaard, Kardin, Pettersen, Hoelgaard and Holmberg are strong guys for sure.
- What is your favorite Visma Ski Classic event and why?
Marcialonga. The atmosphere, the course, the villages, the finish.
- Your expectations of La Diagonela?
I got several texts after Kaiser Maximilian Lauf saying stuff like «podium next», and I think that is possible if my shape remains. But I don’t take it for granted to be a top 10 skier in this circus. I know how tough it is to do a race like I did last week, so my goal is to fight for a top 10 position. And being in the top 10 also means that I can fight for the top five places with good skis like last week, and of course no accidents. La Diagonela is also a race in high altitude with a higher risk of lactate accumulation. It is important to stay in front in the climbs in the middle of the race to avoid using too much power or energy in order to close any gaps to the frontline. Therefore, I expect a hard fight for the good positions before reaching the uphill section. I also expect it to be cold, so I’m trying my best to find some fast skis for slow and dry snow these days.
- Finally, what is your motto for life?
Never give up!
YOU CAN ALSO WATCH OUR VIDEO OF THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK AND PLAY AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN TEAM KAFFEBRYGGERIET'S WAXING TRAILER