Athlete in Interview: Petter Northug’s Tour helper Niklas Dyrhaug (NOR)

11 January 2012 13:30
Niklas Dyrhaug in Oberhof
Niklas Dyrhaug in Oberhof -

24-year old Niklas Dyrhaug finished 16th in his very first Tour de Ski. Climbing up Alpe Cermis he posted the 10th best time of the day, and can generally be more than satisfied with his performance.

For those of you who don’t know this young Norwegian: he made it onto the Norwegian Tour de Ski team based on his great performances in the Scandinavian Cup. Although the Norwegian team believed in this young guy, no one had dreamt of such a great result in his very first Tour de Ski. “My goal was to show what I’m capable of, be offensive and enjoy my time at Tour de Ski. It’s been really cool to be part of this,” Niklas says.

Meeting up with Dyrhaug after the final climb, a modest and smiling guy welcomes us. Surrounded by kids who want an autograph, he politely tells them to wait until he has finished his interview. Asking him if he thinks the kids know who he is he laughs and says “Probably not, they probably think I’m Petter Northug or something”.

Born just outside Trondheim in Norway, Niklas started in his first World Cup race in 2009. After this he’s been mostly competing in the Scandinavian Cup. One of the persons who saw the great talent in him, and who pushed to get him on board on the National team was no one less than Petter Northug. The two of them spend a lot of time together, not only in training but also for social activities. “Petter and I are close friends and work-out buddies. I admire what he’s doing and he’s a great motivator for me, but I like to think we can push each other and he thinks the same way of me. We have a lot of fun outside the competitions as well,” Niklas says.

Having just finished nine competitions in 11 days, Niklas looks forward to returning home to his mum and eating well. Although, the young Norwegian knows what he wants and has set clear goals for his future. “My goal is definitely to compete in a few World Cup events in the coming months and hopefully be on the podium before the season ends. In the competitions in Oberhof and Val di Fiemme, the margins were small (he finished 14th in the prologue in Oberhof and 7th in the 20 km mass start in Val di Fiemme), and this gives me more confidence for the coming races” Niklas says. 

Being referred to “Northug’s helper” during the Tour de Ski, Niklas has shown that he is a great all-round skier. “I would say I’m pretty much equally good in classic and skating, but my favorite is definitely mass start,” the Norwegian says. With a 16th place in Tour de Ski in his first year, Dyrhaug is ready for the future, and aims for a top 3 placement in the coming editions. “I’m confident I can be on the podium in the coming Tour de Skis once I’m more experienced,” he says.

Being used to compete in the Scandinavian Cup, the Tour de Ski and the World Cup are much bigger in all aspects. More focus on the athletes, harder courses, tougher competitions and more pressure from the media. Despite that, Niklas enjoyed his time on the Tour de Ski and wants to continue to be part of the World Cup circuit. “The difference is huge. Yesterday for instance, it was a lot more fighting in the front pack than what it would be in a Scandinavian Cup where I’m used to having a bigger space to myself. Additionally the focus on me as an athlete is much bigger, but this is what I like and what I want to be part of,” Niklas says.

Niklas is back in Norway now, relaxing after 11 tough days on the Tour. Follow the Norwegian Cross-Country team on Facebook in order to see when he will compete next:

Definitely an athlete to watch out for!