Meet Ludde, World’s Fastest Skier

..The world record had been beaten twice already, that evening in Hamar. First, the Under 23 world champion in sprint, Lucas Chanavat, a Frenchman, beat the record time in qualification (11:37) – only to be bettered in the semifinal heat by a Norwegian, Ludvig Søgnen Jensen, who set the new world record, clocking in at 11:29.

What, you’ve never heard of the world records in cross country skiing? It’s because you’ve never seen a new (and rapidly growing) competitive discipline – the super-sprint, with a distance of 100 meters over flat terrain.

It might not be an official, FIS-recognized, competition distance yet, but the list of participants was nothing like a local get-together – more like a “who’s-who” in both ski and rollerski sprint.

…In the finals, four of the best in qualifications stood at the starting line, ready to compete for the title of “world’s fastest skier”: the Norwegian skiing sensation of the last season, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, the aforementioned Lucas Chanavat, the Italian Emmanule Bechis (a reigning world champion in rollerski sprint) – and Ludvig Søgnen Jensen, the man who concentrates in his training on super-sprint.

At the finish line of the exciting, nothing-you’ve-seen-before ski race, Ludvig Søgnen Jensen a.к.a Ludde beat Klæbo, setting a new world record of 11:03.

You can see it here, starting at approx. 02’15”.

A few weeks later, caught up with Ludde Jensen to talk about his life and career:

Do you think that 100 meters is a ski sport?
– Yes, of course. Right now its more of a show event, but the fans love it. And allso the TV-people thinks its a good way to improve the interest of XC skiing around the world. Right now, i think the XC-skiing fans are the guys who allways follows long distance and traditionally ski events. These are few. By letting supersprint as I call it on the schedule there will be more fans, and people outside the XC ski family. I think that will be good for the sport. And to be able to ski 100m fast you have to have technique, strength and quickness.

Are you professional athlete? Do you make money by skiing? What are your sponsors besides Rossignol? How do you promote them?

 – I do make money on skiing, but im allso a student at the Norwegian school of sports science in Oslo. My sponsors are Rossignol, Dæhlie, Comfyballs, Monster products, Guayaki Yerba Mate, Megaflis, and Klinikk for alle. I’m in a professional ski sprint team called Team Jobzone. With them im able to do my sport and they pay for training camps and competitions, as well as we got good athletes like Andreas Myran Steen and Timo Andre Bakken in the team.
I promote my sponsors mostly on my clothes and in social media.

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Is chasing the World Record important factor for success? Maybe fighting with Klaebo gives better media?
– I get more media attention because I have the WR, and thats good for my sponsors, and its kinda cool to have that record. The fight against Klæbo this year was really good because both of the two big Norwegian TV stations (NRK and TV2) and all of the written press did stories on the 100m show in Hamar. And the media was better this year than last year. In 2013 it was allmost the same when I beat Northug at Bislett stadium in Oslo. The media in Norway are crazy about Northug and Klæbo.

In terms of World Record there are so many factors that won’t allow you to set new best time even if your are in the shape of your life. Is there a way to have equal snow conditions? Maybe you can run competitions in ski tunnels?
– XC-skiing is an outdoor sport, and as you know the wind and snow conditions won’t always allow you to set a new record. Indoor events is possible, but then it has to be done right, the fans and press are able to be there. Next winter maybe there will be a indoor race in Norway. I have heard some rumours about that. 

What’s the real potential of the record? Sub 11 seconds, sub 10 or even sub- Usain Bolt world record in 100m running?
– To set a new record you need tailwind (but the record would be not valid if it is too much, just like in track and field). You will allso need an icy track, but not too much, you have to be able to have grip with the skis. I think I am good enough for about 10.5 sec. now when both me and the tracks are at best shape. I will train and do my best to try to be close to 10. I think I have a lot to improve with my technique and i think its possible to do close to 10 flat. However, the acceleration when you run compared to skiing is so fast, and every movement is going straight forward. When we ski we have to push to the side. And we also carry heavy equipment compared to runners.

Is it you plan to have 100 meters in FIS races family?
– Yeah, if that’s possible. Or else maybe I talk to someone else. I know a lot of people thats willing to take this to another level. If FIS wants to be a part of it, then it’s good. They should, because right now XC skiing is not so big outside Scandinavia and Russia. By having a 100m event or maybe a real sprint cup, new athletes and new fans will be there. I am not saying that I will delete one of the original events from the calendar. But i think its positive for FIS to expand a little. You will get strong athletes with different skills, and you are able to have events in the cities, in the shopping streets or at stadiums. The competition goes pretty fast, and people dont have to stay there for many hours. I think events like that can be a plus for FIS and the XC ski family. 

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Do you have to follow FIS rules? Is the length of skies is a part of it?
– Right now we do that. But if there is going to be a bigger thing, like a cup or a FIS event they have to look at the rules to meet the standards of 100m skiing. I think shorter skis are maybe faster, but it depends on the tracks.

Have you tried to use shorter stiffer skies? Would it increase the frequency and speed?
– I have never tried really short skies but I will. I think it’s faster at the start, but the question is, if it’s faster in the end. I have to ask the organizers of the races if it is allowed.

You use the “kangaroo-style” for the first 40-50 meters of the race. Why do you switch to V2 (as it called in the US) technique? On video it looks like you are losing some speed during this switch.
– Yes I do. And it depends on the tracks. If it’s wet or slow I use the “kangaroo/”Ludde step” the whole 100m. But if it’s hard and really fast I have to do the switch to be able to peak my top speed. I have done a lot of testing to figure out what’s fastest.

How do you set practices in a gym that seems to be important part of you training program?
– I do a lot of lifting in the gym. Early in the season I lift heavy, normally around 3-5 reps, and a lot of sets. And when it gets closer to the racing season I do more plyometrics, jumps and power training. I lift as fast as I can, and not so heavy. To be more explosive and fast. I focus on both upperbody and the legs. I have a videoblog on YouTube where i have done some training videos. Check it out:
The gym training is important to me, but my main training is on skis and rollerskis. I do 200m in the rollerski FIS world cup. And sometimes on snow in special events. Its a little different because the top speed is in more focus. In the 100m its more about acceleration. But I like both, and I think I’m pretty good in both. I hope to be better on rollerskis, and my goal is to win the World Champs in rollerskis ones, but I have to be a little better technically. Its a little different.

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Do you use SkiErg for training? What’s you record numbers there?
– No, I don’t do that normally. But I use a similar equipment that gives me the reps and power. Its a good way to simulate the ski technique in the gym. I recomend to any skier to use a SkiErg or similar.

What’s your 100 meters time in running?
– I have done 10.6 in training with fotocells, and I have sub 11 in a competition. I do a lot of running, but I’m better in 60m than 100m.

What’s your best results in other than 100 meter ski races?
– I did a lot of races until 2011, and I did some decent results in the Norwegian Jr. Cup and championship. As a senior I don’t have a lot of good results in regular races, but I dont train for it either.

 What’s you regular racing season? March and April on skis and second part of summer of rollerskis? How many races and what are those races are? Have you done sprint on Alliansloppet?
– Yes thats right. My ski season is shorter in the winter, normally the competitions are in March and April, but with some races in January and February. Rollerski season is June to September.Normally I do all the World Cup rollerski events, and some others like the Alliansloppet. I won that one last year.

Have you been thinking 100 meters using doublepoling technique?
– I have done a couple classic 100m sprints. Two years ago I did some competitions in Finland and Estonia. It was a lot of fun, and maybe it will be another race next year. 

Quick message from Jensen to his fans:
Feel free to check out my Instagram page (Luddeyo), YouTube account (Luddeyo), and Facebook site (Ludvig Søgnen Jensen) to know how I train and to see how I prepare for competitions 
Best regards, Ludde

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