Marte Olsbu Roeiseland: Dreams Fulfilled & a Normal Life

If you look only at the last three major Championships (Beijing 2022, Pokljuka 2021, Antholz 2020) and throw in the last two World Cup Total Scores, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland was a dominating force on the women’s scene. Instead of hanging up the rifle, the Norwegian is returning for the 22/23 season with a new rivalry looming: competing against her husband.

"Love to compete against each other”

Her number 1 supporter, husband Sverre moved from Norwegian IBU Coach to German Women’s Head Coach last spring. “It was a big opportunity for him. When they asked him, he was a bit insecure because he is Norwegian and wanted to train the Norwegian girls. But this was the German A team. I was like, ‘you have to take the job. You may never get a chance like that again. We will deal with the rest of it.’ It will be strange, but we love to compete with each other! That is really one of the reasons that I decided to continue. I really want to fight against him in Oberhof! I wonder what will happen if I am in a fight with one of the German girls (for a medal) …”

“All about who you are with”

Although on opposite sides of the competitive fence, the couple still talk “business” at home, while maintaining a normal family life. “First we try to be just husband and wife; that is the most important thing. I do not ask much about the other girls; he maybe asks more about my day at work than I do about his. He still helps me a bit with training, but we try to just have a normal relationship…A perfect day off is being out with the one I love on a sunny day, doing something away from biathlon. It is all about who you are with, not what you are doing.”

Big Dreams: Olympic Gold, Total Score

Looking back on last season with five Olympic medals, seventeen podiums, two small Crystal Globes plus the World Cup Total Score title, she is as amazed as anyone. “It is amazing…I had big dreams, but the season was even bigger than I could imagine. My main goal was the Olympics; I was so focused; it was a big success. But then the World Cup was there and I could take that as well. I am quite happy that I managed both in the same year. I was a bit surprised but really happy!”

In a year of superlatives, one moment stands out. “The Olympic Sprint because that was my main goal. I managed a perfect race. It was the best that I have ever done. It was so nice to do that in the Olympics, just as it was supposed to, because usually it never does! It might be a once in a lifetime event.”

Failure drove success

Winning the World Cup Total Score after failing the previous season was particularly satisfying. “I learned so much from last year (2020/21); there were a lot of mistakes that season. I thought about those mistakes and how to do them better. I do not think I would have had a season like that if not for the previous one.”

Standing with the big Crystal Globe in Oslo capped her year. “It was so special. It was the perfect moment to celebrate with my friends and family there, at almost 32 years old!”

As the new season approaches, in a less-than-perfect-summer of missed training, the 31-year-old has new goals. “Oberhof is a new opportunity. What I did in the Olympics does not matter. That is how sports is; you reach one goal and move on.”

“Really fatigued”

Olsbu Roeiseland’s special season came at a price: fatigue and sickness resulted in a slow start to her training year. “I was really fatigued and also got Covid. It was really hard with two crazy years of Covid, isolation and everything that happened. After my dream season, it was not so easy to start again.”

“That is why I am not in such good shape. I started doing everything like I used to: spending time with family and friends, sponsors. Everything is normal. It is nice to have that life back again, but for the physical (training) it is hard. There are some months left before the season and I hope that I can be better. My physical part was not so good at Blink, but I needed that (test), also for my head. My competition brain was on holiday. So, I need that like a trigger to be where I want to be.”

Saying “Yes”

Getting back to normal after her spectacular season meant more requests for the Olympic Champion’s time. “I was a ‘no person’ for many years but this year, I actually became a ‘yes person.’ I decided to do that. Every year before, it was training first. This year was a bit different. I felt that I had to enjoy life as well and I said yes more than any other time. If there was a time to enjoy it; it is now. Of course, that might explain my shape!”

Secret to Success

Shooting accurately and fast and blowing through last loops have become standard for Olsbu Roeiseland while she upped her game last season. “My mindset going into every race was to attack which was different from the previous year. Everyone can shoot well, but the mental aspect is the hard part. What you think about when you shoot. My mindset was in a better place, going into every competition trying to win, and not think about the consequences. That was my secret (to success). A lot of people helped me get there: my husband of course, Patrik (Oberegger) who is so relaxed, my personal trainer and also my mental coach who helped me get my head in the right place.”

The mental coach’s importance is not lost on the multi-Olympic Gold medalist. “Many people think having a mental coach is because you have mental problems, but that is not the case. It is about focusing on simple things in sport; to have your focus in the right place. You have to learn something in every competition. That has helped me a lot; to learn to think that way. Before I had to forget every bad competition. Now I never forget it; I just take something that I can do better the next time.”

Last Loop Pain

As for those devastating last loops, “You have to prepare for them mentally. You cannot feel sorry for yourself, because it’s painful; it hurts a lot. You just have to think about something else. Again, the mental coaching helped a lot.”

"Compete with Yourself"

Olsbu Roeiseland’s armloads of medals, trophies and titles did not come easily. She toiled on the IBU Cup circuit for several seasons occasionally making a podium appearance, before securing a solid place on the Norwegian World Cup team in early 2014. “You always wonder if you will get on the podium. When I was younger, I was very bad. Because I started late with biathlon, I learned early on that you cannot compete with the others, you have to compete with yourself. That is something I always think about; be better than I was last year.”

Regarding the upcoming IBU WCH, she added, “You have to be well prepared. The track is hard; it is windy and foggy. So, I think the toughest ones will win. You just have to do the best. I hope there will be good weather, but I am hoping for a foggy, rainy autumn to prepare for Oberhof!”

Happy, Focused and…

Thinking about the challenges and lessons that made her an Olympic and World Champion and life with a few twists and turns along the way, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland hesitated, then confidently described herself as “a happy person, very focused, but a bit stubborn.”

No one will be surprised if she is on the podium in snowy Oberhof next February.

Photos: IBU/ Christian Manzoni, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Jerry Kokesh

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