Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

The fastest cross-country skier in the world shares his story

Posted on 29 October 2017 by Ingrid Sund

Ludvig Søgnen Jensen is the favourite to win today’s VW-Super Sprint in Östersund, Sweden.
Sports Gazette interviewed the Norwegian 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 cross-country 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. 

The 28-year-old now holds the world record at 11,03 seconds.

He 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.”

Jensen after lowering his own world record in March 2017.

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 explained the sport has changed a lot since he got into it in 2013, with bigger sponsors, more athletes and new events each season.

“100m events are really fun to watch and extremely audience-friendly. Unlike the longer events, the audience can watch the athletes live from start to finish,” he added.

There is an on-going debate within the skiing community as to whether FIS should open for the short track discipline in the World Cup. A normal World Cup sprint is about 1,8 km, and athletes have to prepare and train differently for the super short 100m events. 

That is why Jensen’s exercise regime is more similar to the way athletics athletes train than to how traditional cross-country skiers train. 

“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,” he explained. 

When I asked him what he thought of cross-country’s standing as a sport in the UK, he laughed and said:
“I think part of the reason why cross-country skiing isn’t big in places like the UK, is that there isn’t much snow and so people don’t have a culture for skiing themselves. I think Britons would probably appreciate the sport more if they understood, enjoyed and could relate to it themselves.”

“There are some good skiers from the UK though, like Andrew Musgrave.
“But then I guess he lives in Norway,” he finished.

All photos courtesy of Ludvig Søgnen Jensen