Ludvig Søgnen Jensen, 28, from Norway holds the world record in 100m ski sprint at 11.03 seconds.
Today, he is the favourite to win at the VW- Super Sprint in Östersund, Sweden. Ingrid Sund has interviewed the super sprinter before the race.
Jensen’s story is a bit unusual in that he got into the niche of 100m ski sprints after he retired from skiing. In 2012, after struggling with illness and overtraining he felt his cross- country career was not moving in the right direction.
Despite his status as retired, he really wanted to compete in the 100m Super Sprint Bislett Stadium hosted in Oslo that year. The event was invites only though, and as an unknown face, Jensen was not on the exclusive list of receptors.
Before the Super Sprint event in 2013, he decided to send a video of himself sprinting to a few media outlets. The result was an invite to compete.
Jensen said: «Winning at Bislett was huge for me. I was completely unknown and I got to compete against the biggest ski stars around like Petter Northug, and I won and set a new world record. Bislett is such a historic arena, so many world records have been set there over the years. That day I had lots of friends in the audience which made it extra special.»
He has been training for and competing in super sprints since. When he can’t ski, he competes in 200m sprints on the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) roller- ski world cup tour and championships.
Jensen’s exercise regime is more similar to the way athletics athletes train than to how traditional cross- country skiers train. He continued: “It is a lot of speed and agility training. And, of course, sprinting- whether it’s running, skiing or roller-skiing. It is more comparable to how Usain Bolt trains than the likes of Martin Johnsrud Sundby”
Jensen explained the sport has developed a lot since he got into it in 2013: “Back then, there were only a couple of 100m ski-sprint events across the whole season and they were very ‘show’- oriented.
“It is a lot more professional now. Bigger sponsors are involved and more athletes are competing. Each season, new events are introduced.”
Last year, Jensen competed in Norway, Sweden, Republic of Korea, Italy and France.
Jensen is hopeful that super sprints will grow in popularity over the coming years. He not only wishes to win competitions but to help develop the sport. There is an ongoing debate within the cross- country community as to how world cup events should be organised.
At the moment, a normal world cup sprint is usually about 1,8 km and the skiers have to complete the trail up to four times within a short period of time if they make it to the finals.
Jensen thinks there is room for super sprints because they are so audience- friendly and different from the traditional sprints. He said: “Whether FIS will want to go forth with it or a new association will be formed remains to be seen.”
Smaller cross- country nations like Italy and France are really enjoying the super- sprint concept. It is no coincidence that Jensen’s biggest non- Norwegian competition are from there.
Featured image: Ludvig Søgnen Jensen