Sturla Holm Laegreid: Trying Harder from #2 to be #1

Stepping back to the 20th Century a certain rental car company established a new slogan after finishing runner-up multiple years in a row: “We Try Harder.” That is where Sturla Holm Laegreid, second in the World Cup Total Score three consecutive seasons comes in. The uber-talented Norwegian, determined to be #1, continues to work towards that goal.

Skyrocketing Success

Laegreid has skyrocketed to success three seasons ago. After two Silver medals at the 2018 IBU Junior Championships, he disappeared due to illness before coming from nowhere to win the 2020 IBU OECH Sprint Silver medal. That sent him to the two final BMW IBU World Cups where he fired 60 shots missing only once. Next stop was the Norwegian National Team, 32 individual podiums including 10 victories, 10 IBU World Championships medals (5 Gold), gaudy 90%+ shooting stats and second in the Total Score the last three seasons.

Three Distinct Seasons

Sitting down a few weeks ago, he admitted three second places were both satisfying and frustrating. “My first season was my best chance (to win). It was my first season and was incredibly happy to be in that good already. The Olympic year was tough; last season Johannes (Thingnes Boe) dominated everything, second was all I could hope for. Three quite different seasons, still second. I am incredibly proud. I am really stable, not the best on skis, but really good shooting keeps me one step ahead. I have to continue improving my strengths and working on my weaknesses.”

Laegreid’s Biggest Rival

Thinking about his biggest rival/teammate, “The physical aspect is his biggest talent. His body is just made for skiing fast…He is incredible on the tracks…It is almost an accepted fact that you have to rely on him to make mistakes to get the victory. Now he has worked out his shooting; that makes him basically unbeatable. You do not want to be the athlete who depends on everyone else to make mistakes. You want to be the one who takes Gold by doing everything right, not go full gas and pray to God you will hit the targets.”

Work Harder

Laegreid admitted that being second like Avis, “means that you have to work harder to be #1. If you are the best, it is maybe easier to forget to work hard and not pay as much attention to the details. I am the runner-up with a lot of guys behind me but one in front. That drives me to be better and take this last step. It is actually a good position to be in. It confirms the work you are doing is good, but knowing that you have to reach further to take Gold medals and win. You cannot be satisfied with what you already have.”

Improve Standing Shooting

It is pretty hard to improve much beyond Laegreid’s 90%+ shooting level, yet he feels there is room for two of three points in standing that might be the critical difference. “I have been working really hard on my strength, prone where I can shoot really fast if I want to. But now I am taking a step back to be more controlled.” Matter-of-factly adding, “I did miss four prone shots last season. If there is one place I can improve, it is standing. I have been working on that. If it improves from 89 to 93-94%, then we are talking real numbers. Improving standing is more difficult. It is more feeling, the wind. If you go into the range too hard, you suddenly have three mistakes and it is over. It is maybe more mental than technical. I think I have worked out a good solution. I used to think it was okay to shoot clean in 25 seconds, but it needs to be 20. You don’t have to think you are shooting fast, you just have to do it. Be efficient and smooth and it will go fast.”


Laegreid knows he is not the only one chasing that top spot, added some thoughts about his closest rivals:

Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen: “He is the guy to look out for. He is in the shape of his life; I have been in camp with him; the guy to beat.”

Quentin Fillon Maillet: “He is always dangerous; the French guy to watch.”

Sebastian Samuelsson: “Sebbe is like this hermit that stays away from everything, I wish he would do some show competitions. But he knows what it takes to do well in the winter. He is better than some others at prioritizing this.”

Emilien Jacquelin: “He is the show guy. We know how fast he can shoot. If he gets the crowd at his back, he will ski like hell.”

Tarjei Boe: He is the old grey wolf. He knows exactly what he is doing. He hits the nail on the head every time. He will be one to watch in the winter.”

“Put more pressure; be my best”

Regarding moving up one spot and beating his red-headed teammate in the coming season, Laegreid concluded, “I have to step up and put more pressure on him, both in percentage and shooting efficiency. I hope I can breathe on his neck and feel more pressure. The gap needs to be maybe 15 seconds in the sprint; he will then for sure feel the pressure. He has too much gap and confidence now. We need to close the gap just enough that he is not comfortable.”

Continuing, seriously and a bit tongue-in-cheek, “I need to be my best. I do not have to beat him every time. But if I am consistently close, he knows that he has to shoot clean because he knows I will. He (Johannes) will have to fight for it.”

“I have goals to beat Johannes one day and maybe this will be the year. He has not been training that much, because of his new kid. But we will see…It will be a battle!”

Photos: IBU/Nordic Focus, Christian Manzoni, Jerry Kokesh

Share this article

Header iconSign up for our newsletter