Robin Bryntesson: Speak less and race harder

27 September 2011 23:52

Robin Bryntesson is Swedish sprint specialist. The 26 year-old skier from Rossön was diagnosed with diabetes but it did not stop him from high performance Cross-Country skiing.

FIS Cross-Country News talked with Robin Bryntesson about Cross-Country skiing, diabetes, his work for kids and plans for future.

Q: Robin, how do you evaluate last season?

Robin Bryntesson: I think last season was pretty good. In the World Cup, I qualified in all of the sprint races in that I competed in and the best race of the season was the prolog in Liberec that I won. Probably the best overall result during last season was when I ended up as number 9 in Düsseldorf. I have to work on my endurance so that I can keep the pressure for all four heats in the World Cup. In the Swedish national championships I became number 3 in the sprint and together with my club mate Fredrik Byström we won the team sprint. This was really fun!!

Q: This season the Swedish sprint team and distance team train together. What is new about the cooperation? What are the benefits of training together?

R.B.: I think we have a lot to learn from each other. For example, some of the traditional skiiers need to work on a better finish and I need to work on improving my endurance (that’s not a secret). This is something we can work and help each other with in the team by training together! If we are split like before, the team is also more vulnerable if someone gets sick or injured. We also have a lot fun together which is also very important.

Q: How has been your training season? Have you focused on some special parts of your training?

R.B.: Unfortunately, this summer has not been the perfect one for me. For the first time in my life, I got injured. I broke my heel bones after a jump that was a little bit too high! So instead of the traditional summer training, I have learned to swim very well and I have also made some swim races :). A good thing with being a cross-country skier is that you can do different types of training! As long as you keep the pulse high and the heart working, all types of training will be good for skiing in the winter. However, now I train with the other guys in the national camps and I am working hard on improving my endurance, which is the big focus!

Q: People outside the Swedish team can feel the good spirit you have in your squad. What is the reason for that? How does it help in training and competitions?

R.B.: That’s true, we have a very good spirit in the team! Many of us in the squad have raced together since we where small peanuts and we have become more like a family. It’s a lot of different people with different personalities in the team which is a lot of fun, and I think this makes the Swedish team to a perfect “Swedish soup” :) We are helping, supporting and cheer(lead)ing each other! With a good spirit in the team, the result also will come by themselves!

Q: You are a top athlete with diabetes, how difficult it was to become a professional skier? When was your diabetes diagnosed?

R.B.: I was diagnosed with diabetes in March 2002. This was one week after I had won the Swedish junior national championships for the 10 km race. That was not exactly the perfect gift ;) Some of the doctors told me I had to quit skiing, but that was not my thought. My goal was to become the best skier in the world! So I decided to do things in my own way to make my goal come true. I tried by myself to find a way to make it possible to competitive ski, even if I got diabetes. I did not get much help from the medical doctors in terms of understanding how to deal with diabetes as a professional skier. I had to learn a lot from my own mistakes in the beginning and I had to find my own way to be a competitive skier with diabetes. In 2004 I won the sprint in the Junior world championships in Stryn, Norway. After that I was very close to calling the doctor and tell him that it is actually possible to ski fast (and professionally) even if you have diabetes J

Q: You are active in helping young people with diabetes. Could you please explain little bit what your activities are?

R.B.: I try to help younger kids in my own way. It started some years ago with a pink hat. The background is that I have always have raced in a pink ski hat since I was a small child. So I decided to start producing these pink hats (which also has a piece of cloths that imitates a lump of sugar) and I sell them and bring money for research focusing on child diabetes. In the beginning it was more for fun and I did not make so many! But then they started to sell quite well and there was a demand. By selling these pink hats, I donated 12 000 Swedish crones during the first year to child diabetes research. This took me by surprise! After that I have produced some more clothes (always in pink), not only hats. (Find out what more there are on my homepage: www.bryntes.se)

Nowadays the money from this goes to a summer camp for young children with diabetes (kids between 10 and 20 years old). I call this camp “Sockertoppen” (“Sugarhill”). We had the very first camp this summer in Mosjön (Norway). My idea is to show the kids that nothing is impossible, even if you got diabetes. I try to teach them how I do and how I cope with my diabetes when I train my 700 hours per year. I want the kids to understand that it is possible even with diabetes and on top of that we also have a lot of fun and learn from each other.

Q: If anyone wanted to help you and your initiative, what should he or she do?

R.B.: Send me and email or call me! I like all types of ideas and would be happy to hear from you! Please check out my homepage: www.bryntes.se for more information.

Q: You organized a camp for young people with diabetes. How was it? Do you plan to do it again?

R.B.: “The Sugarhill camp”! It was very fun and we all learned a lot! My hope is that it will become an annual camp and I also want it to be for free for the kids, as it was this year. When I was in their age I wanted a camp like this and that is the main reason why I started this camp this year!

Q: You have established yourself as a speaker and entertainer. You formed a great duo with Roberto Vacchi. How and why did you start with that? Could you imagine doing it for living?

R.B.: Roberto called me some years ago and asked if I wanted to work with him as a commentator on Eurosport and since then we have had a lot of fun together. I have worked with him when I have had the chance and when the timing was right. I like it very much and hope I provide something good for the audience. Being with Roberto is not only fun, it is also very educational! Right now I am focusing 110% on cross-country skiing because that is what I do every day. For the future, I don’t now.

Q: 2015 and World Champs in Falun. Is it a big motivation for you?

R.B.: Of course! World champs in your own country is very big! Except for the Olympics in Russia, it is the main goal. I will just keep on fighting and work hard to remain in the very good Swedish cross-country national team!! Speak less and race harder!!!