By Johan Trygg
The Visma Nordic Trophy got an abrupt end as did the entire season for the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour. Of course, with the last three races canceled, it was Vasaloppet winners Petter Eliassen, Team Radge Eiendom,and Lina Korsgren, Team Ramudden, who took home the victory in the Visma Nordic Trophy competition.
Just like the Visma Alp Trophy winner, Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Eiendom, and Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, Eliassen and Korsgren think it is good to have additional competitive elements in the season such as these Visma Alp Trophy and Visma Nordic Trophy mini-tours.
"It gives extra motivation and dividends to be in shape already at the start or throughout the end of the season," says Eliassen
“I think it's positive. It offers more opportunities for all athletes, ”says Korsgren.
However, the reactions to their victories in Vasaloppet have been somewhat different.
“The Vasaloppet victory did not give much attention here in Norway. Apart from two interviews on local radio, there has been no special attention. But of course, I have received many congratulations from those who follow the sport closely, and it is nice,” says Eliassen.
“There was an incredible amount of positive attention after the Vasaloppet victory. And much of it due to my 57th place overall. Many have thought it was great. I did not register it immediately after the race, but now after it has sunk in I realize what I have achieved. If I had thought about it during the race, maybe a 50th place would have been possible,” Korsgren says.
Obviously, the quick end of the season is something both Eliassen and Korsgren feel sorry for.
“It was sad that the season ended so prematurely, although I understand and accept that it was decided this way. There were three nice races that many looked forward to, which we were not allowed to go. I really think they could have been great competitions with good conditions. At "Birken" Sundby, Holund and Tønseth would also have started, and I was both worried and happy to compete against them, "says Eliassen.
“At first, I was very disappointed, but after some days I just had to accept it. We were really lucky to be able to compete for much of the season, ”says Korsgren.
For Petter Eliassen one victory was enough to win the Visma Nordic Trophy. The opportunity to win the Visma Alp Trophy disappeared when he first got sick and missed Kaiser Maximilan Lauf and then became 30th at La Diagonela. La Diagonela was one of the winter's most interesting races where Petter chose to go with kick wax, and he was in the lead for a long time together with the final winner Chris Andre Jespersen, Team Koteng.
“La Diagonela was really a troublesome race for me. I hit the wall at the end. Probably because I was running low on nutrition and had been a little sick before the race. Going with kick wax was a good experience in the first half of the race. The other half, however, was no fun. It was hard to double pole on the long flat parts with kick wax under the skis, and I got too tired to manage to use the legs on the uphills. But I still believe that it is possible to perform well with kick wax in a Visma Ski Classics race, not only at Reistadløpet," states Eliassen.
Lina Korsgren can look back on a strong season with her wins at both Kaiser Maximilian Lauf and Vasaloppet as the icing on the cake. But she also looks back on how strong her young teammates have performed. For example, both Ida Dahl and Max Novak won the youth competition.
“For me, it has been so nice. That not everything depends on me, "says Korsgren and continues:
“It will be exciting to follow their development next winter. I think it is very important that we have a climate in the team where it is allowed to fail. That you still have a place in the team even if you don’t succeed.”
The ”Visma Skier of the Day” award is handed out to a skier that has significantly been offensive in a race trying to set a high pace or has done something encouraging or inspiring in a race. After Vasaloppet, Torleif Syrstad, Team Koteng, got the award. And that was well deserved after he went on to catch the leading group and then was in the long breakaway and still finished in third place.
Syrstad likes that it is possible to be a Visma Skier of the Day in the Visma Ski Classics races. The award was,by the way, founded by the main sponsor Visma.
“It makes the race more interesting, just like in cycling. It is an award you really want to achieve,” he says.
The Norwegian was also third at Vasaloppet in 2019 but has not since then been among the 15 best in any Visma Ski Classics race.
“The season was ruined because of a hand injury so I haven't been able to train properly. But I was back in shape for Vasaloppet. It's also the race that suits me best," Syrstad states.
The fact that the season ended just when he was peaking performance wise was, of course, disturbing. But after some bitterness, the soon-to-be 25-year-old is looking forward to next winter and Visma Ski Classics Season XI.