FISCrossCountry spoke with Head Coach of the Swiss Ski team Guri Hetland shortly after the completion of the men’s 50km mass start at the Val di Fiemme FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. The Swiss star Dario Cologna won silver in the competition, his second medal at the Championships.
FIS: Before his crash today Dario was off the front of the group with the eventual winner Johan Olsson. Was that the plan for the competition?
GH: Actually the plan was for Curdin Perl to attack early in the race around the 2 km mark. I think it was important to raise the speed to put the field under pressure. Then the plan was for Dario to be near the front, as we expected the Swedes to want a fast race and when they went after Perl, Dario was able to get away with Olsson. I think they could have stayed together until the finish.
FIS: Certainly Dario falling wasn’t in the plans but he was able to quickly recover and get a silver medal.
GH: Yes, exactly it was unfortunate that he fell but he came back and did everything right in the final kilometers to earn a very well-deserved silver medal.
FIS: We saw an incredible performance by Swedish skier Johan Olsson to win the 50 km solo. As a coach are you able to take in the entire race or are you just focused on the Swiss athletes?
GH: Both. I have to pay attention to my athletes to be able to pass along messages. But at the same time I think it was the best 50 km at a Championship in a very long while and I really enjoyed the competition. I like when athletes try to push the pace and succeed, and it was great to see Dario get his silver medal.
FIS: Two medals for the Swiss team here at the Championships, both from Dario. For the team overall, was it a successful 11 days of competition?GH: Yes it was. Those two medals were definitely the highlights. But I think we have shown that we have a strong team. In the men’s relay we were in the leading group until the end and were still just 13 seconds from the podium. In the men’s 15 km we had three guys in the top 16. Also in the sprint we had some good performances from younger athletes, the little brother of Dario and others showing that we will still be in the game in future years. Also with the ladies, Laurien (van der Graff) fell in the team sprint where I think we could of had a good result but overall we are quite satisfied.