The Icemen Cometh – Triathlete

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If you were shocked by Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt’s performance at the 2020 Olympics You weren’t paying to pay attention. In our November/December issue of 2019, we reported on the rise of Norway – specifically Blummenfelt’s home town of Bergen as a superpower in triathlon. (Spoiler warning: The story concludes with Blummenfelt crushing it in Tokyo to take home an event that is among the most iconic races in the history of triathlon.)

Nestled within the Fjords that lie along West Coast of Norway under between the Seven Mountains, the city of Bergen is famous for its picturesque coast, cobblestone streets that wind in a spiral as well as a bustling market for fish and intricate architecture that dates from fourteenth-century architecture. For the last couple of years, he’s been known for producing three of the fastest triathletes of all time: Kristian Blummenfelt, Gustav Iden and Casper Stornes. Three of the most famous names in sports right now have have made Bergen as their base. In actuality, Blummenfelt 25 and Iden 23, lived in Bergen for a while and attended High School together. The trio, as well as many young talents who train in their shadows, have created one of the strongest national teams that the sport has ever witnessed. In April jaws dropped as Norway took off the Bermuda ITU World Triathlon Series podium for the first time that a nation has claimed the top three spots in the major race. The excitement and surprise continued into August when Blummenfelt took home his title at the ITU World Final in Lausanne, Switzerland, followed by Iden’s impressive (and unexpectedly, for numerous) win during the Ironman World Championship. 70.3 In Nice, France, a week later, riding the road not a road bike, but a road bike.

Related: Gustav Iden: Six things you need to learn concerning this world champion. 70.3 world champion

This is coming from a nation that has never had any triathletes to take part at the Olympics until Blummenfelt was able to qualify in 2016 (he was 13th). Now, only a few weeks before an event in 2020 Games, the Norwegian team has been chosen as the top contender for medals. The path is, to put it mildly is rapid and deep. This leads to the question: what exactly is in Bergen water?

Every day, you’ll see Arild Tveiten sat by the large pool in Bergen’s sprawling Aquatic Center, or hovering with a group of athletes sitting on sweaty coaches in the studio. (Given Bergen’s humid climate – it’s rainy there for about 200 days per year – a lot of the team’s training sessions take place inside). It is believed that the Oslo origins and an elite triathlete was appointed the reins of Norway’s national team about the time of eighteen years, during the time there wasn’t much of a team to be found. According to the story, in 2010, following the advice by government officials from the Norwegian administration, Tveiten led a charge to set up an initiative for junior development in Norway. He set up a camp with 20 youngsters between 14 and 16who were selected from different cycling, running and swimming teams across the nation. From this group, he chose twelve of the best athletes to make up the national team, however Tveiten admitted that he was not amazed by the potential. Since Norway is the country that is heavily influenced by winter sports, such as cross-country ski as well as speed skating triathlon isn’t an activity that is popular among the younger Norwegians.

“I believe that among the 12 competitors we chose there was a couple of them could have met the criteria used to select other triathlons that are considered to be “good,” said Tveiten, 48. “But this was the situation we were working with. We then began building a team one step at a time.” But we had the possibility. Blummenfelt Iden as well as the bronze-medallist from the Championships World juniors Lotte Miller currently 23, were all part of the first team. A year later Stornes who is now 22 was a boarder. Tveiten took over his position to manage the team’s development. Full-time national team coach despite only having a brief knowledge as a coach. “But we have found the most effective methods for developing the athletes and create a space in which the team can to train together in excellent conditions. This is the main reason behind our achievements. In fact it is true that our Norwegian nation’s team, particularly for the men’s team – is extremely close. They might be one of the most fierce competitors on the field However, they’re also great acquaintances. They don’t have much choice in the way their program is designed, they are required to spend most of their time in Bergen in Norway, in which Tveiten is able to manage the level of his athletes’ performance. At least for two months during every year, his group travels for their home in Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain for a high altitude camp. The group lives in the same house and alternate cooking and cleaning.

Blummenfelt who is the team’s captain de facto Blummenfelt, the team’s de facto captain, believes this tie is the main component of Norway’s special sauce. He describes their training and living setting a paradise which has created a unique base of solidarity in a sport that is generally designed for the individual. The Norwegians have a keen eye on tactics for teamwork in the draft-legal format in ITU events, their solid bond of friendship allows them to push one to push each other. For instance that when the Norwegians were among the top three teams during the Bermuda WTS race, Blummenfelt recalls feeling like it was “just the typical Sunday brick session. We were were there, running as a group. This sounds like something one of the tri-dominant British brothers might have to say.

If the Norwegians keep their momentum up towards the possibility of winning an Olympic medal – or even three may be very possible. This is in the forefront of the minds of all athletes on the team. And as usual they’re all working towards this goal together. “Of course you would like to be at the top of the medal podium” Blummenfelt says of his Olympic hopes. “But an Olympic bronze or silver medal can be just as valuable as gold when you can share it with your team.”

About George Dailey

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