by Sjur Røthe
Last season was a rollercoaster for me. The start was good, as I was twice on the podium in my second home of Lillehammer, Norway. It was a great feeling to be in such good shape early in the season and especially to be in the tracks of the 1994 Olympics.
But the races that followed were not very good and I started to lose my self-confidence. I was wondering if I was in bad shape or if I had been in top shape too early. After a good talk with my teammates and my coach, I decided to start the Tour de Ski – even though my original plan was to go all in for the World Championships in Falun, Sweden. I got sick right after the Tour started and this forced me to return home for some rest and to start the preparation for the World Championships instead of fighting to win the Tour.
To compete at the World Championships in Falun was very cool, but I was not there only to take part – I was motivated to fight for the medals. My biggest chance to earn a spot on the final podium was in the 15km skate. After a really tough race, I finished ninth. Unfortunately, that was not good enough to make the Norwegian relay team. I returned home to Norway after a disappointing Championship with my back causing me quite a lot of pain and results that were far from what I had hoped. Still, this really motivated me to show my potential in the final races of the year.
The best day in my skiing career came on March 14. I had done a really good job of training and worked extremely hard for many hours. I was at my limit and told my waxer, “I'm going all in for the 50K in Holmenkollen.” I have never trained so much during the winter, and to be honest, I was a little bit nervous that it was too much.
During the race, I had a good feeling. I was in the top 10 for almost the entire race and I made it clear that I was there to fight for the victory. In the final climb up to Frognerseteren, there were only few guys left. My opportunity had arrived! I made sure to get a good spot in the last few kilometres. I had one goal in sight, and that was to be first into the last 200 metres. My legs felt like logs, but I made it. I was the first to cross the finish line – only four small centimetres ahead of Dario Cologna (SUI). My teammate, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, was third.
That was by far the greatest day in my skiing career. The victory in Holmenkollen has motivated me to train well for the coming season. To cross the finish line as No. 1 was a great feeling, one that I really hope to experience again this winter.