Håvard Lorentzen (NOR) aims to bounce back

Photo : isu.org
isu.org|15-Sep-2019 13:43

Getting to the top is not easy, staying there is even more difficult. After winning Olympic 500m Speed Skating gold, the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships title and the 500m as well as the overall ISU World Cup Speed Skating in 2018 Håvard Lorentzen (NOR) was struggling to get back to winning ways last season. "When you have accomplished everything you dreamed of, it's harder to motivate yourself", he says. After a lot of hard work over the summer, the 27-year-old Norwegian is looking forward to next season's challenge, with the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships on home ice in Hamar as his main objective.

"[When you are on top] everyone is chasing you. That's difficult. I need to stay as hungry as I was before the Olympics, but after such a good season it was hard to find back the motivation last year. I had to find other goals to reach for. I still want to skate faster."

One of these goals is winning the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships title in a fully packed Vikingskipet, which has a capacity for 10,600 spectators. Having won the first Olympic Speed Skating gold for Norway since Ådne Søndrål's 1500m victory at the Nagano Olympics in 1998, Lorentzen is the anchor of a generation which has brought Speed Skating back to the attention of the Norwegian public. The combined ISU World Sprint and World Allround Speed Skating Championships couldn't come to Hamar at a better time. "Tickets are being sold very well, especially for the Saturday and the Sunday. I expect it to be sold-out", Lorentzen says.

Although Hamar is his main goal, February is still far away for Lorentzen, who takes it one step at a time. "The summer has been good. We've been on the ice in Calgary for a month, and two weeks on summer ice in Hamar. Now we've been off the ice for almost a month and we'll go to Heerenveen to skate again on 15 September." Lorentzen will skate the first training races in Inzell in October. "That's something I'm really looking forward to. It's always good to see what the shape is after a long summer."

Lorentzen had a slightly different approach to the summer training than last season "It was a bit more like we did before the Olympic season, but not exactly the same because [coach] Jeremy [Wotherspoon] always wants us to try new stuff to keep developing. The changes were not so much in the workload as in the type of exercises we did. We did more dry skating and we did not do any inline skating like we did last year."

Speed Skaters never stop developing their technique and Lorentzen especially focussed on two key aspects this summer. "My start has always been my Achilles heel, so I made some small adjustments. But the most important thing about the start is repetition. It's a specific skill, like juggling a football. You have to repeat and repeat to get it just right. I think I've improved my start, but on the other hand, that's what I always say before the start of the season."

At last year's ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Hamar, Lorentzen had difficulties with his blades. "The blades were a little off, but Jeremy fixed it before [the ISu World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in] Inzell. I'll definitely pay more attention to my blades this season, and the other technical stuff I looked at this summer was my left leg in the corners. I worked on the mobility in my hips to make better use of the power in my left leg."

Who will be Lorentzen's main rivals for the upcoming season? "There's so many good skaters in the 500m and the 1000m [Tatsuya] Shinhama (JPN), [Pavel] Kulizhnikov (RUS)… the Japanese sprinters are fast, the Russians, the Dutch. It's going to be exciting to see where everybody stands in