NIklas Dyrhaug: I feel strong and have a medal in Val di Fiemme in sight
Niklas Dyrhaug is the rising star of Norwegian Cross-Country Skiing. The young skier from Tydal shined at FIS Tour de Ski landing as the second best Norwegian in 16th place. He scored the first World Cup podium in 4x10 km relay in Nove Mesto and in the World Cup Final he stormed to the first individual podium just behind unbeatable Dario Cologna and Devon Kershaw. FIS Cross-Country News talked to Niklas Dyrhaug about the breakthrough season, plans for the coming winter, and much more.
Q: Niklas, are you coming from a skiing family?
Niklas Dyrhaug: I definitely come from a sporting family. My mum works at the biggest football club in Norway, Rosenborg Trondheim and I was doing all kinds of sport when I was young. From the morning till the evening I played football, I did running and cross country skiing. Football was the main priority for me. I played in the district team with for example, Per Ciljan Skjelbred who plays in Hamburg at the moment.
Q: Why did you change from football to skiing?
N.D.: I was injured a lot, between 16 and 18 years of age. I decided to focus on Cross-Country Skiing, because I didn`t have such problems with injuries there as in football I. But I wanted to be a football player when I was young, and I’m really interested.
Q: How has been you summer training?
N.D.: I have been training in Trondelag almost the whole summer. My home place (Tydal) is 130 km away from Trondheim up in the mountains. In early July the plan was that Sjur (Roethe) and I should train together with the sprinteam in Italy. But then I got sick and decided to stay at home. I think it was a good decision too stay home and relax before a fall with a lot of training camps.
Q: In your summer training, do you prefer roller skiing, running or mountain biking?
N.D.: In the summer I like running with poles in the mountains. That’s my favorite workout in the sunny, nice weather. I do arrange a local competition at my home place, which is held on 18th August. The start lies at 762 m and the finish in 1762m, with a lot of good competitors and good atmosphere.
Q: What is the best/worst about summer training?
N.D.: I like warm weather and too train in the sun, and take bath afterwards :)
Q: Do you mainly train alone?
N.D.: I train a lot with Petter Northug, and also Eldar (Rønning) and Chris (Jespersen) but I do also like to train alone. That’s good in Trondheim as many skiiers live there.
Q: Last season you literally broke through to the World’s elite. How did you do it?
N.D.: Like I said, I was often injured when I was a junior and could not train so much. Since then I have developed a lot and I`ve become better. I was improving step by step. I also made a big progress in technique, especially last winter. That’s one reason. The second one could be I was in the recruit team. It was very good for me as we trained a lot with the A team. I trained with Petter and Eldar and I saw their level. I tried to get there as well. Month after month I came closer. You have to train hard for a long, long time and then you get results.
Q: What is the biggest difference between Niklas in 2011 and 2012
N.D.: I definitely feel stronger this year than last year. I feel in better shape now than this time last year. Last season I felt good the whole autumn but got sick just before the World Cup season kicked off. Then I had the only chance to qualify for FIS Tour de Ski and that was Scandinavian Cup in Vuokatti. I was very focused to do well there (Niklas finished 1st in 3.75 km free and 2nd in 15 km free). When I came to the World Cup circuit I had a good self confidence and I felt better and better with every competition. I am happy with last season and I feel and hope I am even better this year.
Q: How was the first FIS Tour de Ski for you?
N.D.: It was very exciting. I did take part in some World Cups before but not that many. The Tour was very cool to compete and I was glad to help Petter. I feel I did my job well and on top of it I was second best Norwegian. I think the Tour is something I can do very well in the future. Hopefully I can fight higher this winter.
Q: Perhaps you get a new nickname (Niklas Dyrhaug was nicknamed Petter’s helper) next winter?
N.D.: That would be cool. I hope to go for own chances at Tour de Ski next winter. It’s the kind of competition that suits me very well. I feel equal in both classical and free technique. I have to get better in sprints to become more competitive.
Q: Next year, there will be two highlights, FIS Tour de Ski and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Will it be difficult to prepare for the peaks?
N.D.: It will definitely be a new challenge for me. But last year, my main goal was Tour de Ski and I was there in good shape. I did also well one month later in Nove Mesto, so it is possible to be in shape for both events. I plan not to compete a lot after the Tour and to train. I hope I will be ready and in good shape for both the Tour and the World Champs.
Q: Speaking about next winter, what is your vision for next season? What about your long terms goals?
N.D.: I hope to take my first medal at the World Championships next winter. That’s my main goal for the season. I will focus on skiathlon, 50 km and of course is it a main goal to compete for Norway in the relay. The three coming years with Val di Fiemme, Sochi and Falun feature the biggest targets for me. I hope to take the big first step forward in Italy.
Q: If you could go for a swim anywhere in the world this summer, where would it be?
N.D.: I’m really bad as swimming (laughs). But maybe a Island like Mauritius or something. Next spring maybe?
Q: If some musician in your Ipod could come to live, who would it be?
N.D.: I actually listen at all kinds of music and do not have any favorites, so it depends what kind of mood am in. But I do like the Swedish band “Kent” very well.