Birgitte Skarsten with another injury: – She leans a little

Birgitte Skarsten with another injury: – She leans a little

Birgitte Skarsten is back in the water – at the winter rowers' base in Gaviarati, north of Milan. Photo: Johan Lidberg, Norwegian Rowing Association

Even the always smiling Birgitte Skarsten, 35, has faced setbacks on the road to Paris 2024.

Now, one of Norway's biggest hopes for the Paralympics in Paris this summer is betting that luck has turned.

– It's been a tough winter, she admits over the phone from Italy, where the national rowing team is meeting. It is their base during the winter months.

“An incident rarely comes alone,” she says. For Birgitte Skarsten, they came one by one in preparations. Of course, this doesn't fit well with a Paralympic year:

  • First, she fractured her heel in October.
  • She had barely recovered before she broke her leg during a judo session in December. He gave ten weeks in plaster.
  • After Easter, there was another stop – this time an extra load in the arm.

– That's why I had to train alternatively. But now I'm back in the water, Skarsten tells VG.

There were long hours of skiing for Birgitte Skarsten on Easter. A lot, it will turn out. Image: private

– What happened?

– There was a lot of skating when I was skating at home on Easter. I spent 30 hours on the road in one week, plus double sessions with the rowing machine. It was a hot ride, and I probably pulled him a little too far, which is why there was an extra load in his arm.

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– Did you have to realize that?

– Well, it usually goes well. But when you start taking damage, the system tends to get a little out of balance. Normally I would have put up with this much skiing on Easter. After breaking my leg, I was able to practice on the ice less than usual and I simply wasn't in the skating shape I had been in for the past 10 years. I just couldn't stand it.

Birgitte Skarsten came to the sports concert with her leg covered in a cast. On the left, Caroline Olsen. Photo: Ole Martin Wold/NTB

– But there is something positive, right?

– naturally! Here in Italy it's 26 degrees and it feels like summer! And I have to ride a lot!

Already in the last week of April, there is the European Championship. Birgitte Skarsten is thinking about starting there.

– But all thoughts are directed towards Paris. This is where I need to be at my best. Not until the end of August-September.

Birgitte Skarsten won the gold medal at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics (postponed for a year due to Corona). The idea now is to defend this title in Paris. Skarstein most recently won world championship gold in the fall of 2023.

Its golden line is very impressive:

  • 2014: Golden WC Amsterdam.
  • 2017: Sarasota Golden Toilet.
  • 2018: Golden WC Plovdiv.
  • 2019: Gold Toilet Linz.
  • 2021: Tokyo Paralympic Games gold.
  • 2022: The race for gold in the water cycle.
  • 2023: Golden Toilet in Belgrade.

– Will there be new gold?

– Oh, it will be difficult! German Manuela Denning set a world record on the rowing machine this winter and she looks very strong. It was a frighteningly fun time. Nathalie Benoit is sure to be strong on home soil in France. Israel's Moran Samuel is still hot, and Ukraine's Anna Sheremet is also good. The Russians have been allowed to participate, and China often arrives at the last minute with a good boat.

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Birgitte Skarsten has become a member of the board of directors of the Norwegian cycling project Uno-X. Here with Ole Robert Reitan, Thor Hushovd, Emma Johansson and Vijar Colset. Image:

– But is it enough to find the right model for the Paralympics?

– Well, then: It is important to get a good classification before the Paralympics, because then you will have an easier path to the final in Paris. This is a big advantage.

– We have entered the season, and we have done our best to get out of it. We are quite trained not to dwell on what is not optimal, and to focus on doing the best we can with what we have. And it can go really well, I've had a lot of good training as a substitute.

Training is now taking place in Gavirate, a little north of Milan. The rowers live there at an Australian training centre.

Birgitte Skarsten is now thinking about the Paralympics, but an extra load meant she had time last week to stop by a Uno-X cycling team board meeting. It is the latest of her many positions and activities outside of sports.

-I'm very impressed with their investments. I get inspiration for my own project there!

Najuma Ojukwu

Najuma Ojukwu

"Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner."

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