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The Stuff That Champions Are Made Of

May 27, 2024

Overall World Cup winner Harald Østberg Amundsen and his twin sister Hedda share their favorite dryland workouts, and why they love them. 

Norwegian turbo twins Harald and Hedda Østberg Amundsen are coming off a solid season: Harald as the overall Tour de Ski and World Cup winner, Hedda with several national victories, continental cup podiums and decent World Cup results.

Both twins were recently named to the Norwegian national team for the next season, and both are aiming for a ticket to the 2025 FIS Nordic World Championships on their home courses in Trondheim (NOR).  They are deep into their preparations to secure those spots. 

These are their favorite dryland workouts which are vastly different. After all, Hedda and Harald are NOT identical twins!

For Hedda, it’s all about speed. So far, sprint racing has been her best game at the World Cup level, with fifth place in the classic sprint in Oslo last winter as her career best.

But, as the 25-year-old points out, speed is a useful skill in cross-country racing, regardless of distance. Both sprints, mass start distance races and marathons typically feature numerous speed surges and cover a variety of different terrain.

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“There are lots of good dryland workouts that incorporate speed elements. But my favorite is speed work on the roller ski course in Holmenkollen (NOR) with a group of friends,” says Hedda, and elaborates:

“Doing these kinds of speed workouts in a group allows you to work on tactical skills such as how to position yourself on the course in a race field, how to solve different kinds of terrain, technical features such as maneuvering in and out of turns and maintaining speed into hills and over the crest, as well as managing and initiating speed surges during the race, which is useful both for sprints and distance events.”

Photo by: Nordic Focus

What do these workouts look like, from start to finish?
“I usually start with a good half-hour warmup. Then we start the various speed intervals. We typically do 10-15 of them. Each of the speed intervals are from 10-15 seconds up to maybe 20 seconds, depending on the terrain and the task. We typically ski easy for one or two minutes between each of the surges, just long enough to recover sufficiently for the next surge, or the time it takes to get back to where we started the interval if we are doing repeats on a specific section or element. We also do some of them with ‘flying start,’ which means that we are coming into the surge at threshold speed and then switch to an all-out effort, like in a sprint finish in a race. After all the speed intervals, we do an easy 25-minute cooldown, and that’s it.”

For Harald, it’s the opposite. So far, he’s been stronger in the distance events, but this season he has stepped up his sprint racing in a huge way. 

In December, he bagged his first sprint podium at the World Cup level finishing third in the skate sprint at the pre-Word Championships in Trondheim. In March, he capped off his season with third place in the classic sprint at the World Cup final in Falun (SWE). 

And while the 2024 overall World Cup winner will put some extra effort into sprint-specific training this season, his favorite dryland workout is something totally different. 

“I really like running, and often throw in some running races, like 10-kilometer events, trail runs and road runs. But my favorite workout is a long, easy distance run in the woods. Especially in the spring and the first part of the summer, when it’s green and lush, and you haven’t done much running in a long time. I also really like cycling, preferably long rides with friends. Those are my favorite workouts.” 

Because after all, there is no such thing as too much endurance in cross-country skiing.

Photo by: Nordic Focus