You opened the season on a high note. How did the summer look like? Have you changed anything in your training routine before the team's camps?
I haven't changed anything. Honestly, I am not sure why I am so strong this season. Before last season, I became a dad and lost some training. When I realised I should have done more, it was too late.
After your Sprint win in Hochfilzen you mentioned solving the shooting range riddle which - consequently - brought you many wins, podiums and Flower ceremonies there. Do you see all the shooting ranges as the riddles you need to solve?
It suits my style when there is an uphill before we enter the shooting range. Lenzerheide, Ruhpolding, and Oslo have relatively uncomplicated approaches to the shooting range, allowing everyone enough time to prepare and shoot clean and fast. I like it more challenging, like Hochfilzen. The last uphill before the shooting range keeps the speed down.
Collecting many points on the road towards the BMW IBU World Championships 2023 in Nove Mesto na Morave seems an ideal preparation for the highlight of the year. Do you regularly check the Total Score standings after the competition?
Things evolve and change so fast during the season. The points allocated for the podium places make a huge difference! The yellow bib was a pleasant surprise and proof that I was doing a fine job. But when it happens that Johannes is your brother and he is the one chasing you, then you know it will be hard to keep the lead. It feels like Johannes has only started the season in Lenzerheide.
This season - at least in Trimester 1 - seems more open than many before. What are the reasons?
The scope of contenders for the Total Score win might seem more open than in the previous seasons, but I am not sure it will stay so for longer. In the past decade, Martin Fourcade and Johannes were battling it out among themselves and the rest participated in that magnificent fight. Johannes’s start to the 2023/2024 had been slow for his standards, and there were opportunities for others to be in Yellow. But when you look at the nations participating in the fight for podiums, you still see the same nations as last winter with a notable distinction: we miss the French guys. We like their challenge, and in 2023/2024, it has not happened yet.
The internal battles to have a spot on the Norwegian team - not just in the World Cup but also in the IBU Cup - are super intense. How does this affect the level of performance for all Norwegians?
Strong performances from your teammates make everyone adapt to a very high level of competition within the team. To qualify for the Norwegian team - be it in the World Cup or the IBU Cup - you don't need to be only talented and hard-working, but always prepared to do a little extra. When you have a lot of athletes ready to go that extra mile, you get the Norwegian team! We have an unstoppable series of emerging super athletes. I think the level of athletes in the Norwegian team has never been higher than it is right now.
Who has surprised you the most this season?
Endre Stroemsheim, perhaps. He was very stable and got his first podium in Lenzerheide. And that is pretty cool.
How can you preserve the winning flow from Trimester 1 over Christmas and carry it into 2024?
Ha! I don’t know. If sport was mathematics, this would have been an easy question. I will make room for a good rest. I will try to repeat my performance from Trimester 1 in the next two trimesters.
Photo: IBU Pool