On December 12, Thérèse Juhaug won the 10 km freestyle in Davos. It was her last ski race before the Beijing Winter Olympics began with figure skating on February 5.
The reason for the unusually long pause in competition is due to the fact that the World Cup races in France are not Ross 14-16. January has been canceled due to the contagion situation in France.
Johaug chose to stand over the Tour de Ski and had these World Cup races on French snow as the only competition planned before the Olympics.
Now there will instead be a rehearsal for the 33-year-old girl from Dalsepgda.
This means that when Juhaug is on the starting line to fight for the singles Olympic gold medal of her career in Beijing, she gets a 56-day break in competition ahead of one of the most important ski races of her career.
What has been canceled has been cancelled. It was nice to go skiing twice before the Olympics. But on the other hand, it was advantageous not having to drive the entire long distance from Seiser Alm to Les Rousses. Now she can lie in Seiser Alm and get ready there, coach Pål Gunnar Mikkelsplass tells Dagbladet.
Thérèse Juhaug is currently training at 1,800m at Caesar Alm. The Cross Country star will be there until January 26th. Coach Mikkelsplass himself arrives at Seiser Alm at the weekend.
– Almost an advantage
As an alternative to the canceled competitions, they will now instead simulate competition-like drills in training, in order to get the hard sessions and runs needed.
– Now she has to attend the difficult sessions that she should have gone to at Caesar’s Pain instead. There is no crisis. Physically they will be quite similar. Specific preparations for the competition are not critical to the loss. It could have been different with a more experienced runner. In general, it is almost an advantage that it was canceled, Mikkelsplass believes.
– If elimination is almost an advantage, wouldn’t these gutters be included in Plan A in the first place?
The infection situation has changed since the plan was developed. Now there will be peace and quiet – and no one will travel. The risk of infection is reduced. It is safe to be in a closed bubble in a hotel in Caesar Alm. Yes, you haven’t skated in a while and it would have been nice to have a run, but in my head this cancellation is almost a plus, when the covid situation is the same.
All about the Johog Olympics this season.
The long-time cross country queen does not have a single Olympic gold on her merit list. In Vancouver in 2010, she was part of the relay team that won the gold medal, but there were no Juhug individual medals there. In Sochi 2014, there were a silver and a bronze one. In Pyeongchang in 2018, Johaug was banned.
Therese has not been to the Olympics for eight years. The Olympic Games are the biggest goal. It is the Olympic Games alone that matter this season. Training was her time, says Mikkelsplass.
Cross-country skiing trails in Beijing run at an altitude of about 1,750 metres. Approaching the limit allowed in competitions. The boundary is 1800 meters above sea level.
For success on the Olympic tracks, altitude training is an important part of the preparations.
Already in 2019, Johoge told Dagbladet that she had to start preparations for the hike for Beijing.
The Olympic Games in Beijing are the focus now. There are still three more years left, but that’s still on my mind. That means I have to start doing more altitude training and prepare for it there, Therese Juhaug told Dagbladet in 2019.
However, it was easier said than done.
Little did Johaug know at the time that the pandemic would affect the years leading up to the Olympics and for a long time would create travel restrictions and thus also altitude training in southern Europe.
This means that Plan A, with a lot of altitude training over several years before the Olympics, was put on hold over a longer period when the pandemic took hold of the world.
The most ideal is plan A but plan B with some modifications we also believe in. Now we have to plan Plan B as closely as possible. For Therese, this is not a problem. It has gained a lot of time rising in the past six months and is at its peak now. Michaels Blass says she is well prepared.
When she won in Davos before Christmas, she was 1,500 meters above sea level.
Seiser Alm, where Johaug is now training, is located at an altitude of 1,800 metres.
The cross-country skiing course in Beijing is located at an altitude of about 1,750 meters.
– It’s a very well-known hike that meets the elite cross-country in Beijing, although it’s not often contended for that elevation.
This is waiting in Beijing
Another factor is the track features, snow and climate in Beijing.
All of them should fit in with Johaug well on paper.
– We don’t know exactly what the tracks look like, because we weren’t physically there, so it’s hard to tell. But trail profiles indicate heavy, difficult trails lie in wait, Mikkelsplass told Dagbladet.
The temperature is expected to be extremely cold, likely reaching the international cold limit for cross-country sports of minus 20 degrees.
The line will probably be cold and heavy. Teresa has been used on the cold since childhood and copes well. There are many factors that look good to her.
The third factor is path features. Where in many rinks there is a track where you can run at high speed towards the stadium and track, it is the opposite in Beijing with an ascent towards the stadium, as is also the case in Ruka in Finland.
– It’s not a very fast running court, but rather a dense entrance to the court. This is an added advantage of Treize in a joint start. There is bumpy terrain in front of the stadium area. It’s not like it’s in the restroom in Seefeld and Oberstdorf, says Mikelsblas.
It bodes well for ability runner Johaug.
– In much better shape now
Mikkeplass further says Johaug has shown improvement in training in recent weeks, while the rest of the world’s elite have measured up the strength in the Tour de Ski.
In December, Johaug showed better and better beats in sessions.
– I’ve been doing better and better in recent weeks. Therese has had very good sessions now. She is in much better shape now than she was earlier in the season. Therese felt better and better during training. The coach says the signs are positive.
At the start of the season, Juhaug was defeated by Frieda Carlsson at both Roca and Lillehammer, before Juhaug became stronger again at Davos.
The 33-year-old from Dalsbygda is now said to be several notches stronger than he was at the mentioned ski runs.
Mikkelsplass also believes this is necessary to win the Olympic gold medal in Beijing.
The races you did at their best last season were much better than what you did this season. Mikkesplass explains and adds: If she’s going to win the Olympics, she has to go faster than she has so far this winter:
– I also think she will do it, with the speed she has shown in training since the competitions in Davos.
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