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Hopes and expectations – Norways manager : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

Hopes and expectations – Norways manager
With over 40 riders from Norway, manager Eddy Knudsen Storsæter hopes for the best, but expects nothing at this year’s world championships.
By: Karl Erik Andresen and Ine-Elise Høiby

The national team consists of 13 riders, while the rest of the national quota is filled with riders and supporting staff from different parts of the country.
– Of the 13 riders on the national team, one will participate in the trial and four men in the downhill, while the last eight are participants in cross country. Ingrid Bøe Jacobsen is an cross country rider, but will participate in the elimination aswell. She has two podium finishes in the world cup earlier this year, so it will be interesting to see how well she will perform, says the manager.

Another rider in the elimination is Sebastian Kartfjord, a former BMX rider.

– Sebastian is our joker here. He has extreme skills that fit the course well, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the track with his BMX skills.

High hopes

Realistically, Norway has the chance to take two medals. One is Ingrid Bøe Jacobsen, and the other is our superstar Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjå.

– Gunn Rita was second in the last world cup race, and has been on the podium in all the world cup races she has attended. We hope she gives everything and win the gold medal, while Ingrid has good potential to finish in the top three.

According to the manager, it is the women who will take responsibility, but there’s plenty of good riders among the guys as well.

– Sondre Kristiansen (U23 men) was sixth in the European championship earlier this year, and could easily get a great result. Everything is possible here, but we will not put any pressure on him by expecting a medal from him. But we are confident that he will be in the top 20.

Another champion is Edvard Vea Iversen who rides for the local team MTB Lillehammer, and is one of the other Norwegian hopes. After he won the national championship in May, there is great expectations to him. Last year he finished as number six in the World Cup at Hafjell.
Low expectations

– If we get a medal that is good, if we get two it is very good. We know that all the athletes can’t win a medal. But if everyone perfoms to their potential and perhaps surpass themselves, then I’m satisfied.

The downhill team are those that has the least expectations, Terje Nylende participated in the World Cup finals last weekend, where he qualified as number 24, which is very strong for such a young rider.

– Isaac Leivsson is another very strong rider, but after he broke his collarbone six weeks ago, it has been uncertain whether he even starts.

A chance for the unexperienced

Now that the World Championship is in Norway, they have the opportunity to bring riders outside the national team. During the world championships in South Africa, it was not possible to send more riders than those of the national team due to financial reasons. But now they fill up the national quota with young and promising athletes from NTG (a school in Lillehammer) and others.

– It’s exciting to be able to provide those who are not on the national team an opportunity to match themselves with the elite. When riding at their home turf, they may perform over their maximum potential and win, or the nerves and expectations might get the better of them. Let’s hope they embrace their chance and does some great runs. It’s a tight-knit group attending, the mountainbike community is relatively small, but we have athletes who competes at the top level, so it doesn’t have to be many riders for the environment to be good.

Preperations

A careful review of the trails and tire choice in terms of weather, is important to prevent injuries and optimal performance. This is the job for technical trainer Sondre Nordland, he has extensive experience in BMX and downhill from the past, which is invaluable to the team.

– The weather has little impact on the competitors, but they hope for bad weather, with rain and all. Thats the optimal conditions for the riders , and they master it well. It won’t provide a big advantage, but if the riders get the weather they want it’ll be enough to give them an extra boost of confidence.

Despite the fact that mountainbiking is a sport where athletes are prone to injuries and accidents, there is little focus on it.

– We don’t think about the possibility for injuries. We focus on what we can do to avoid them, the manager says with a smile.

Photo: Ine-Elise Høiby

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The Norwegian Crownprince is coming to Hafjell! : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

The International Cycling Federation (UCI) welcomes H.R.H. Crownprince Haakon of Norway to Hafjell September 5th.

By: Malin Gaden
He will arrive at noon, and shortly be cycling the official track for cross country. A half hour later, 12.45 pm, the Crownprince will be at the finish line. After that he will be guided to the VIP seating area where Lillehammers major Espen Johnsen and the President of UCI MTB Commission Emin Muftuaglo will be.

At 1.45 pm the womens U23 will begin the cross country race, and Gunn Rita Dahle will be there to inform about the ongoing event.

Event Director Kjell Tore Bjoernhaug is very excited to have the Crownprince come visit and test-ride the official track.

– I think it’s brilliant. This was the only thing that was missing from this wonderful championship, Bjoernhaug says.

Photo: Sølve Sundsbø/Det kongelige hoff

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Hard-working volunteers : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

Hard-working volunteers
Rocks are placed, bricks are painted, and fences are put up. Thanks to the hard-working officials and volunteers, Strandtorget is finally ready for trial.

Av: Helena Walle and Frid Osen

– Yesterday was my first day here. I spent all day painting big concrete blocks and putting up fences to make the area ready for trials, says Roy Røtvold.

He is a local guy working as a volunteer official. Most people volunteering are form Lillehammer or nearby. Also some colleges from other parts of Norway are participating. Røtvold claims that there are approximately 25 people volunteering at Strandtorget. He is working long shifts and will be working at Strandtorget until the last finals, which is on Saturday.

This is his third year volunteering, but previously he has worked in Hafjell. The program at Strandtorget is actually brand new this year. Last year he worked as a sheriff, which means he brought in people for drug testing.

– Despite the fact that I do not know a whole lot about the sport, I enjoy to watch the competitions, he says.

Although yesterday was Røtvolds first day at Strandtorget, the preparations have been going on for a long time. Two weeks ago Røtvold saw big rocks being placed on the lawn outside Strandtorget.

– I had no idea what it was. My first thought was that there was going to be an exhibition or something, he laughs.

Ane Olstad Grasbakken (25) and Lalo Peshawa (23) from the College of Lillehammer are also working as volunteers at Strandtorget. They are hired to do a big screen production for UCI. There are a total of 25 students volunteering from the school to make the bigscreen production. They arrived Strandtorget on Monday, and will be working on the production until Saturday. They are really excited to work during the World Championships as they get to see the contests and work with the speaker. They are hoping to see some of the exercises in Hafjell as well.

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Great opening at Maihaugen : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

Great opening at Maihaugen
The Swedes dominated the prologue at the beautiful Maihaugen in Lillehammer on tuesday. But in the end, Belgium and Switzerland were victorious.

By: Eirik Knutsen

The first day of the World Championship was a great success. It all started with XCE – Eliminator, and with the whole world elite lining up, there were a lot of nervous faces at the starting line.

During the prologue the Swedes showed us why they are here. Jenny Rissveds raced first of the girls and set the bar high. And no one reached up. On the men’s side, Belgian Fabrice Mels took the lead followed by Swedish Matthias Wengelin and Emil Lindgren.

Belgian Gold

Showing his strength through the day winning the prologue and qualifying through each eliminating final, Mels was ready for the finally.

– I was off to a bad start, but when Daniel Federspiel overturned I had a window. I had to work really hard to catch up to Lindgren, says Mels.

In the last turn, only meters away from the finish line, Lindgren crashes into Kevin Miquel who won all the qualifying rounds and had the lead in the finally.

– I saw them crash into each other and suddenly the track was clear for me to give it all and win the whole thing, says the proud World Champion who does admit he had luck on his side this time.

The Swiss ladies dominated

While Swedish Jenny Rissveds secured first place in the prologue, the Swiss girls got three out of the four first spots in the prologue. Kathrin Strinemann got third, but ended up to be the one with the World Champion-jersey.

– When I was little I told my mother that one day I would be the World Champion, and now I am! It’s a dream come true and this is the best day of my life, says World Champion Kathrin Strinemann.

According to the Swiss team, Strinemann took the 104th medal for the Swiss team, and Linda Indergand the 105th with her silver medal. Indergang was very happy that Strinemann got the gold, and was not at all bitter about finishing second.

– I am extremely happy with this silver medal, it’s perfect for me and Kathrin deserves the gold, says Indergang.

Three Norwegians

With three Norwegians at the starting line, the chances of a medal were limited. All of them still managed to qualify. Ingvild Bøe Jacobsen delivered and made it all the way to the finally.

– My only goal was to get to the finally on home turf. I had no expactations about a medal, so I am really happy with this bronze medal, says Bøe Jacobsen.

Disappointed

Jenny Rissveds showed extreme confidence during the prologue and qualifying rounds. But the Swedes gold-hope did not finish as expected. Rissveds was in second behind Bøe Jacobsen heading for the first hill. At the top the Norwegian had some trouble in the track and the leading girls were suddenly last as Rissveds was right behind Bøe Jacobsen.

Although the gap to the Swiss girls decreased, the bad luck would not end. In the last turn before the finish line Rissveds was not able to steer away from Bøe Jacobsen and they crash into each other. Bøe Jacobsen is a bit faster and Rissveds has to watch her chances of a medal fade away.

After finishing Rissveds was clearly disappointed and did not wish to talk to media.

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France won the Cross country team relay : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

France won the Cross country team relay
World Champions

By: Karl Erik Andresen
This years winners are France (52.02min) represented by Jordan Sarrou, Hugo Pigeon, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Maxime Marotte.

Second place was Switzerland (52.47min), Andri Frichknecht, Filippo Colombo, Jolanda Neff and Nino Schurter

Third place Czech Republic (52.57), Krystof Bogar, Jan Rajchart, Katerina Nash and Max Wiklund-Hellstadius.

Race Development

The favourite, Italy, had a flat tire on the first lap, and was too far behind to be able to contend for a medal the rest of the race. It was very obvious during the competition that the most experienced teams had a tactic to save their strongest riders to finish.

France as one of the favorites managed to stay among the first five throughout the race, Maxime Marotte took the last leg and left all the other riders in his dust before he crossed the finish line 45 seconds before the rest.

The three strongest riders in the last stage all completed with the strong time 12.06, which bodes well for fridays events.

The last riders for Switzerland (Nino Schurter) and Czech Republic (Jaroslav Kulhavy) which is one of the biggest favorites in the cross-country event put on a show and climbed from 6th and 7th place to the top three during their lap.

Press Conference

France’s Maxime Marotte opened the press conference and said that he was very afraid to get a flat tire.

– I was thinking very much about how not to damage the bike or get a flat tire. I saw many other riders struggling at the rocky sections of the trail. During the training I got a flat tire twice, and I felt I had to be careful during the race.

His team gave him a good starting advantage, he felt that he could control the victory and focus on riding safe and securely to the finish line.

Switzerland’s Nino Schurter praised his young team, which had a clear ambition to win despite their lack of experience.

– Now we have 106 medals in mountain biking, and we will certainly try to get more.

He also confirms that the choice of tactic was essential, and it will probably be a trend in future relays to open and close with the strongest riders.

Katerina Nash from the Czech Republic was not surprised that they ended in the top three.

– We have a strong team on paper and we had a clear plan on how to get results. Run hard, was our slogan during the team meeting earlier today.

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Excitement at Strandtorget : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

Excitement at Strandtorget

We wanted to check out what people thought about the World Championships in Mountainbike in Lillehammer. We went down to Strandtorget were the trials started at 10 am.

By: Frid Osen and Helena Walle

– Since we are from Denmark, and live in Norway, we cheer for the Danish national team. They are strong and have accomplished a lot, says Bjerke Jensen.

He is at Strandtorget today to watch the Trials with his son. – We also cheer for Germany and of course Norway since we live here, his son says.

They both think it is great that Lillehammer got the World Championships in mountain bike because they are engaged in the sport.

– We try to watch most of it, and we were on Maihaugen yesterday to watch The Eliminator. We are really looking forward to the weekend, to watch the different competitions.

– At work we talked about the World Championships, and I think it is really sad that there is so few people here in to watch it. I hope that there will be more people watching as the weekend gets closer.

Inside Strandtorget shopping center we find Dean Compton from New Zealand. He is the father of Jack Compton who is going to compete in Men’s Junior Cross Country tomorrow, Thursday, September the 4th.

– We are so excited for tomorrow’s competition. Jack has been training really hard, he is in such a good shape and he has high ambitions and goals.

They arrived Oslo on August 29th. They spent three nights there before they travelled to Lillehammer. They are going stay for seven nights.
– We have been looking around, and yesterday we were at Maihaugen to watch the Eliminator. We have also been to Hafjell to watch the practice there. When Jack has such a full schedule with training we are usually watching it, but today we have a day off, and decided to check out the shopping center.

– After the World Championships my wife and I are going on vacation, first a couple of days in Norway, before we travel to Finland and further down trough Europe.

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The first lady of cross country : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

The first lady of cross country
Mountain bike legend Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå is ready for the World Cup on home soil. She seems certain that her routine and experience in this sport, will be decisive for her physical condition at the raceday.
By: Henrik Brastad
Gunn-Rita feels that her preparations leading up to the World Campionship has been good. She’s been to Livigno, Italy this summer to train for the championship. She finished the World Cup in Meribel, France with a second place behind World Cup winner Jolanda Neff from Switzerland. Overall Gunn-Rita finished 6th in the World Cup.

The veteran

She tells us that this year’s trail is improved from the World Cup in Hafjell last year. As a veteran of the cycling scene, with participation all the way back to 1995, she has won the World Cup four times, as well as gold in the Olympic in Athens 2004. The last time Lillehammer hosted the World Cup she took a gold medal in the marathon discipline.

When asked about her expectations this year she replies:

– I am certain my physical condition will not be any challenge, I have good routines in that field. Expectations are as usual high infront of this year’s challenges. The fact that the World Cup this year is held in Lillehammer is a bonus. I’m hoping for a good atmosphere among the spectators and that this may provide an additional boost to do well in the competition, Gunn Rita says.

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Hoping for an International breakthrough : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

Hoping for an International breakthrough
Reigning Norwegian champion Erik Nordsæter Resell will be among the other junior riders today when the cross-country event starts at 15.00. This could be his international breakthrough.

Text: Camilla Skanke
After a strong finish securing him the gold medal in this years Norwegian championship, the young rider from Trondheim has to live with high expectations now that he is competing at his home turf.

– This is my first world championship and I think its really cool that its held here in Norway, says Resell.

The champion says he can feel the pressure of having to perform well in front of the local spectators, and he does not hide the fact that he is nervous about todays event. After all he will be competing against the best riders in the world.

– It will be a real challenge to compete at a high international level, but now I can compare my form against the best of the best. The bar is set incredibly high, so I think it might be hard, he predicts.

His plan is to conserve strength and hang behind the the rest in the early parts of the race, before he tries to overtake them one by one. He himself won’t dare to predict what result he gets, but he tells us that this course suits him well.

– My only hope is that my strength lasts all the way to the finish. The course is pretty cool and technically demanding, which I think is an advantage for me.

Yesterday his performance helped the Norwegian team to a 12th place at the team relay cross-country, where Resell met the expectations of coach Eddy Knudsen Storsæter who thinks Erik has good chances for success at todays event.

– Erik had a strong second leg yesterday, and contributed to the team’s finishing results. He has been working hard with his preperations leading up to the world championships, and we believe he will get a strong result, says the Norwegian team manager.

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Chasing the medal : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

Chasing the medal
At the press conference for the Norwegian team on Thursday, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå felt well prepared to fight for a medal this Saturday.

Text: Malin Gaden

After a very good season with medals in all the World Cups, coach Eddy Knudsen Storsæter says Dahle Flesjå is ready for the World Championship.

– Gunn-Rita is a favorite and has had a great season with a lot of good races, says coach Storsæter.
The favorite herself says she has a great starting point after a lot of preparations.

– If it’s a good day, I feel I have chance at a medal, says Dahle Flesjå.
Mentally prepared

She constantly works to balance the nervousness, but does not feel any extra pressure of being on home turf.

– I am just as nervous as the juniors here. There will be a lot of Norwegians cheering us on and I plan on using this to my advantage. I have worked hard mentally and I know that this will only give me more energy, says the 41 year old.
The athletes have a hard and technically demanding track ahead of them. Dahle Flesjå and the rest of the National team have to prepare for a lot of climbing.

– The few flat parts in the track feels like climbing, she laughs.
If she can combine fast cycling in the technical parts, staying strong while climbing, and with her head in the game, Dahle Flesjå knows she can go far.

Joking about her age

Many have speculated if Dahle Flesjø will participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She says this is something she will come back to after the season, and that Saturdays result will have nothing to do with her decision.

– I see no reason to quit, but there are a lot of things to take into consideration.

If she participates in Rio 2016, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjø will be 43 years old.

– I probably should be in the veteran class instead, Gunn-Rita laughs.

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Nicole Koller winner in junior cross country : 2014 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

Nicole Koller winner in junior cross country
Nicole Koller from Switzerland won the women’s junior cross country today.

By: Juliann Larsen and Marie Skarpaas Karlsen

Malene Degn from Denmark came in second and Sina Frei from Switzerland took today’s bronze medal.

– What is it like to be World Champion today, Koller?
– It’s amazing, I can’t believe it, says the gold winner.

Malene Degn from Denmark was also happy:
– It was great to win the silver medal, I tried the whole way, but Nicole was too strong.

Two medals to the Swiss
The girls from the Swiss Juniorteam won two medals in todays cross-country race. Danish Malene Degn had to settle with 2nd place.

– I fought throughout the entire race, said gold medalist Nicole Koller.

She was close behind danish Malene Degn the two first laps, but managed to catch up with her before the fourth lap began.

-I focused on not to crash or do something that could cost me the victory.

Although the two of them fought each other the entire race, Degn realized that she wouldn’t be able to catch up with Koller. Still, she was very pleased with todays placing:

– Silver is good enough for me, she said with a big smile.

There was also a bronze medal for Switzerland and Sina Frei, who was very happy with her own performance, and was almost speechless.

– It was a dream come true, she said.

Marit Sveen and Anna Gabrielsen from Norway took respectively 15. and 23. place.