Ladies in the Spotlight: Hanna Midtsundstad (NOR)
Meet the last Nordic Combined "Lady in the Spotlight" for this summer: Norway’s Hanna Midtsundstad. A Youth Cup starter since the ladies’ premiere in Oberstdorf in 2014, Midtsundstad has been a fixture in the competitions ever-since. The 16-year-old entered the podium in 2015 and 2016 and claimed the first official national title for ladies in Nordic Combined in Norway.
Can you tell us a little bit how your career as an athlete has gone so far? When did you start skiing and jumping?
I started skiing at the same time I was able to walk. I wasn’t more than two years old when I got my first pair of skis. I’ve loved cross-country skiing from a young age and took part in many trainings and competitions for kids.
My dad has always been interested in ski jumping (or rather all kinds of Nordic winter sports) and so I have grown up watching winter sports on TV. Ski iumping really fascinated me. We have a ski jumping hill close to where I live, so naturaly I wanted to try out the sport. I think I asked my dad if I could start ski jumping when I was about three years old. But by the time I’d turned six and he allowed it, unfortunately the ski jumping environment where I live had died. I nagged on my dad for two years and when I was eight , my dad, me and a couple of others started a ski jumping program again. Ski jumping quickly became a big part of my life and I wanted to jump in bigger hills and have higher speed.
After some years I started competing in Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined. I met many new friends and developed well. When I was 12 years old, I won my first “big” competition when I won both, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined, in the main national competition for 12-14 year olds in Norway. I took part in my first international competition in FIS Youth Cup in Oberstdorf when I was 14 years old and took part in COC Ski Jumping some months later. One of my best memories of my career was when I took part in EYOF in Vorarlberg. It was a valuable experience and I learned a lot. The highlight of my career so far is the gold medal in the Norwegian championships (both junior and senior) this winter. It is really cool that I can call myself a champion! (laughs)
Do you have any favourite athletes or role models in the Nordic Combined World Cup?
Actually, I admire everyone who works hard to reach their goals. In Norway, Mikko Kokslien and Jarl Riiber are my biggest role models. I admire Mikko for his values and results. I live in the same town as him and I often meet him in the gym or the ski jumping hill. All the results and the high level Jarl has achieved at such a young age are really impressive and I admire him for that. Eric Frenzel is also an idol for me for his high level and his brilliance in the sport.
Of the girls, I admire Timna Moser a lot. She has won almost everything there is to win, and she is an important girl for the development of this sport. She is also a really kind girl and a good friend of mine.
How is the situation for ladies in Nordic Combined in Norway at the moment? Tell us a little bit about your everyday training.
The situation is developing in the right way for ladies in Nordic Combined in Norway. There are more and more girls who wants to try Nordic Combined. The level gets higher and higher and we get more and more competitions. For example, we had our first national championship this winter. The federation has many plans and ideas for us girls. I am looking forward to follow the development of this sport, both in Norway and internationally.
I am in a sports school in Lillehammer, NTG (Norwegian top-level sports school). I have a focus on ski jumping there but I am in a cooperation with the Nordic Combined coach, too. There are really good training facilities, we have great coaches, equipment and environment. We have about two training sessions every day, one before and one after school. I feel I have good opportunities to develop as much as possible.
Another thing that has been really important to me and many other girls in Norway is an initiative by the ski federation called „Jenteprosjektet" (girl project). That project has been going on for 7 years. We girls have our own camps and get and own coach and so on.
In the upcoming winter, we will have an overall ranking for Ladies in Nordic Combined for the first time ever in the history of the discipline. Are you excited about the development?
This is a big step in the right direction for Nordic Combined for the ladies and I think this will be really fun for the athletes, increase the level, and create more interest for the sport. An overall ranking will make the girls more motivated to perform and to concentrate on Nordic Combined.
With Vuokatti, Oberstdorf, Harrachov and Trondheim, there are four great venues of the calendar. Do you already know if you’re going to take part in some of the events? Which one are you looking forward to most?
There are some factors to the amount of events I’m going to take part in. I am going to prioritize training and my development before competitions in this autumn and upcoming season. I will be training a lot. There are training camps throughout the autumn, so I will see if will have enough time and energy for competing. I have been in Trondheim and Oberstdorf, those are great events. I am yet to take part in Vuokatti and Harrachov but I am sure those are good experiences, too.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
I want to develop further and reach a higher level. My ski jumping is better than ever and my cross-country shape is okay too, so I am excited to see how well I can perform this season. I want to get to the podium in all of the Nordic Combined competitions I take part in. I also would like to to defend my Norwegian championship gold medal.