By Teemu Virtanen
The Visma Ski Classics Season X presented more young skiers than ever before, and this youth invasion spiced up the competitions in the Pro Tour. Young athletes such as Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, Max Novak, Ida Dahl, Jenny Larsson, all from Team Ramudden, Torleif Syrstad, Team Koteng, Thea Krokan Murud, Team Ragde Eiendom, Alexandr Grebenko, Russian Winter Team, and Stian Berg, Team Kaffebryggeriet, managed to be among the best skiers in many races; Persson won two stages while Berg won the sprint competition and Syrstad finished 3rd at Vasaloppet.
Novak and Dahl were also really close to podium places in several races, which enabled them to win the Youth competition this season – Pro Team Athletes up to 26 years. Novak pushed himself within the top nine skiers in five of the nine races, his best result was 4th at Toblach-Cortina. Four became Dahl’s lucky number as she finished in that position in three races; Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, Marcialonga and Vasaloppet. Both of these athletes, along with their young opponents, are the future of the sport. Here is what the happy winners have to say at the end of the season.
“The season was really good for me,” Ida Dahl admits proudly. “I had a goal to be among the best five skiers in some races, but to be able to do it so many times was a pleasant surprise to me. It means a lot to me to win the Youth competition, and next year it’ll be fun to defend the title. And I want to be on the podium in Season XI!”
Max Novak is on the same page with his teammate and continues by saying that he would have taken his results without hesitation before the season started.
“Though now after it had gone very well, it bugs me that the season ended prematurely and that I didn’t get any more chances to step up on the podium. I’ll have to compensate it next year, and my goal is to fight for the Yellow bib!”
For both athletes Vasaloppet was a special race as that was also the one where they were able to get the coveted bibs to themselves. Additionally, Kaiser Maximilian Lauf was Dahl’s most memorable race as since she managed to be close to the podium for the first time. For Novak, La Venosta was truly special as he realized then that he has the capacity to fight all the way to the podium.When asked about their strengths as skiers, they acknowledge their overall skiing capacity.
”I really surprised myself with being so allround,” Novak says sounding a bit astonished. ”I’ve kept my speed and have done really well in classic sprints this season as well as being strong in longer and more demanding courses with long uphills.”
”My strengths have been that I'm tough,” Dahl analyzes her strongest qualities. ”I never give up and have climbed a lot of positions at the end of many races. Next year I want to develop my explosiveness to keep up when the speed gets really high.”
They both compliment their team and Gustaf Korsgren, their director, as he is the one who plans everything and takes care of their skis. Novak says that the greatest thing about Team Ramudden is their “after race dinners”, and Dahl takes her teammate’s comment further by bringing up the fact that they really have a great team spirit allowing everyone to be equal and confident. That is the recipe for success, and we will certainly see more of them and their teammates come the new winter.