– It is insanely impressive. We have to consider that the boy is a junior. The fact that he comes here and walks like this with the senior boys is gross, said NRK’s expert commentator Therese Johaug when Nordhaugen rushed through the slopes during today’s 15 km freestyle at Gjøvik.
Jørgen Nordhagen turned 18 on 10 January. This means that, in terms of skiing, he still has two seasons ahead of him as a junior runner.
Thus, it is somewhat sensational that he finished in eighth place in the NM race, in a battle against world-class senior runners. He was 54.5 seconds behind Norwegian champion Harald Østberg Amundsen.
– The junior shows himself here, and Jørgen Nordhagen has gone absolutely fast all the way, significantly faster than some of the elite guys, cross-country expert Torgeir Bjørn noted.
Is a professional cyclist
The great paradox is that Nordhagen does not have cross-country skiing as its main sport. Last year he signed a professional contract with the cycling team Jumbo-Visma.
– This season I’m trying to keep 50/50, it’s very good training both ways, and that’s what makes it work so well. But I have signed for Jumbo-Visma, so in the next few years when I ride on the World Tour, that will probably be the focus. Then I will make another choice in 2027 about what the way forward is, says Nordhagen to NRK.
Therese Johaug believes he should be persuaded to choose the opposite:
– I think we have to put in some effort to get him to bet on cross-country skiing, because what he delivers today, it’s enormous, I must say, she says.
The dream of the Tour de France and the Olympics
Nordhagen confirms that the final decision has not been made, and that he both dreams of cycling the Tour de France and going to the Olympics as a cross-country runner.
– In the long term, I haven’t really decided. But this season and next I am very excited to push skiing and cycling in the summer. There are slightly different requirements the following year with the world tour team for Jumbo-Visma.
– Is it in your cycling contract that you are allowed to cross-country ski as well?
– Yes, for the first few years now there is a bit of freedom in what I want to do and prioritize. And then there are slightly different requirements over time, but I think all parties are keen that I use it as training and see the benefits of it, says Nordhagen, who will definitely do more cross-country skiing this winter.
He has been selected for the Junior WC in Canada.
– I’ve never skied abroad before, so I don’t know the level or any of the other people going. The only reference I have is to the other Norwegian runners, he admits.
Important Amundsen victory
It was Harald Østberg Amundsen who took the NM gold ahead of Hans Christer Holund and Iver Tildheim Andersen. The three were perhaps also the three biggest advance favourites.
For Amundsen, it was extremely important that the seconds went in his favour. The man who took bronze in the 15 km freestyle at the WC in Oberstdorf two years ago had his start of the season ruined by the coronavirus. He is thus fighting a desperate battle to qualify for this year’s WC in Planica.
With victory in the Scandinavian Cup in Falun last weekend and the NM gold in Gjøvik, he is back in the game. Because the competition was really tough. Holund is the reigning world champion over the distance, while Iver Tildheim Andersen won the 10 km freestyle in the World Cup in Lillehammer before Christmas.
– It was extremely important. It was a tough pre-Christmas season, but I have had plenty of time over Christmas to train and think and realize the importance of this NM. It is, after all, the only 15 kilometers we run before the WC, so it is a very relevant selection race, so I had in the back of my mind here that I had to win if I was going to enter the battle for a place at the WC, says Amundsen to NRK .
– Was written off
Then he adds:
– I was written off before that weekend here, so it was good to show that I was in good shape.
– Who wrote you off?
– Mr. Sundby was out, and understandably enough, I hadn’t been up and nodding before Christmas, and struggled a bit, so it was good to show that I have it in. I am very easy, says Amundsen, referring to an analysis former top runner Martin Johnsrud Sundby joined VG before the NM.