Alpine Young Guns: Lotte Smiseth Sejersted
by Michael Mastarciyan
Lotte Smiseth Sejersted is typically Norwegian - and by “typically Norwegian” we don’t mean she’s got blonde hair, blue eyes and a penchant for Dale of Norway wool sweaters.
By “typically Norwegian” I mean, as Aksel Lund Svindal so readily put it in his description of another up-and-coming Norwegian racer Espen Lysdahl, Sejersted has the "typically Norwegian" ability to ski well in all four disciplines.
“I know exactly what Aksel means. I think as Norwegian ski racers, we all get pushed by each other and we don’t specialize in any one discipline at an early age. That’s how the alpine ski racing culture is in Norway - we train with lots of variation,” Sejersted says.
Sejersted’s “typically Norwegian” mastery of the four alpine disciplines was made abundantly clear at Norway’s National Alpine Championships earlier this spring when the 20-year-old racer from Baerum, a chic suburb of Norway, ran the table and took first place in every event she entered - DH, Super-G, GS, Slalom and Super-Combined.
But this isn’t the first time Sejersted has been a stand out at Norwegian Nationals. On her first attempt at the ripe old age of sixteen, Sejersted grabbed gold in downhill and silver in Super-G. Since then her name has been a mainstay on the top of the board and she has collected numerous other victories and podiums in all the alpine events on her country’s national stage.
“When I think about the fact that I’m the first girl in the history of the Norway’s National Alpine Championships to win all five events I get really excited, especially when I think that it’s something that Aksel Lund Svindal also did a few years back. Slalom was the only event I hadn’t won a national title in before, and that was the last race of the Nationals so getting into the finish hearing that I won was a really great feeling!” Sejersted confesses.
Unfortunately for some racers success at home doesn’t always translate into success on the international stage, but fortunately for Sejersted, this is not the case. Despite being well-skilled in both speed and technical disciplines, so far Sejersted has shown signs that she’s more of a Speed Queen-type than a tech wizard - something she’s proven the last three years by capturing downhill podiums at the last three FIS Junior World Ski Championships - highlighted by a gold at Crans Montana, Switzerland earlier this year.
“I’ve always loved going fast. I think the reason why is because I love pushing my limits, going faster and improving myself. I remember doing crazy things to push my limits when I was younger. From my first year competing in Junior Worlds I hoped I would be the one standing on the top of the podium one day. I remember looking up at the girls standing on the podium and I couldn’t really see myself in the same place, but after my second and third place finishes at Junior Worlds I started to believe I could definitely win. In Crans Montana I gave it my all, and crossing the finish line and finding out that I won was the most exciting feeling I’ve had in my career so far. It also gave me the ticket to the World Championship in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and to the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide,” Sejersted says.
Podium success on the World Cup tour hasn’t materialized yet for Sejersted, but it’s pretty apparent that it’s not too far off in the distant future. Since her maiden World Cup race at a Giant Slalom at Soelden, Austriain October 2009, Sejersted has scored points at eight World Cup races as well as an impressive 10th place in the Super-Combined at the FIS World Ski Championships at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany this past February. Her most impressive result so far however, came in March of this year when she finished in 5th place at the season ending World Cup finals downhill at Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Sejersted agrees, that despite her “typically Norwegian” skill set, it’s pretty clear, based on results so far (Sejersted has not scored World Cup points in GS and Slalom) that Sejersted will likely hit the podium in the speed events before anything on the technical side of the coin.
"I’ve learned racing on the World Cup tour over the last couple of years, especially about how you have to give everything you’ve got from the moment you push out of the gate. There are so many great skiers who are pushing their limits and if you don’t do that you won’t end up with a good result. I definitely think my first World Cup podium will come in a speed event, but I think I can be fast in all events in a couple of years, I just need some more time to improve my slalom and GS skills. I gained a lot of confidence this season, which I will carry on to next season on the World Cup tour. Confidence for me is really important to ski fast, and believing in myself helps me get better every day,” Sejersted adds.
With a successful race season behind her, Sejersted is spending the off-season prepping for the next World Cup campaign. But it’s not all dry-land and on-snow training for the 20-year-old who is an extremely talented photographer when she’s not racing (check out www.lottesejersted.wordpress.com to see her photographic work).
“Off-season training has been great so far. I skied a lot in April and May. Since then I’ve been focusing on some pretty intense weeks of dry-land training in Oslo, which will continue until the end of July. I’ve been training with a lot of variation and I love the feeling of improving and getting stronger every day,” Sejersted says.
“But I’ve had some adventures too. In mid-April I went on a trip to California with my mom and dad, younger brother who is also a racer and my two older sisters. I don’t see them a lot through the winter season so it was great to go on a trip with them. We stayed in San Francisco for a few days, and then we rented a car and drove down the coast. It was a great way for me to get my mind on something else other than skiing. I also got to take lots of great photos at all the beautiful places we visited. I also went on a trip to New Yorkfor 5 days to visit my friend at the end of May. I think that’s it for my summer vacation, but who knows, maybe I’ll jump on a last minute flight to a warm place by the sea, I love being spontaneous!”