Monday Media for Oct. 10: Østberg, Johaug, Lampič, and Whitcomb


Welcome to Monday Media, a weekly feature that curates some of the most insightful (as it were) recent news stories from home and abroad. The focus will be primarily, but not exclusively, on the foreign press. This week: Ingvild Flugstad Østberg eyes a comeback, Therese Johaug transitions into civilian life, rumors swirl about Anamarija Lampič potentially returning to nordic skiing to race at home in Planica, and Matt Whitcomb speaks candidly about his coaching philosophy.

N.b., all non-English articles mentioned here were viewed with Google Translate. If your browser does not automatically translate an article for you when you follow the link given in this piece, copy and paste its URL here.

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg is on the comeback trail

Norwegian skier Ingvild Flugstad Østberg experienced great success relatively early in her career; she won her first two Olympic medals at age 23, and added a World Championships gold by age 24. As recently as the 2018/2019 season, she won the overall World Cup title, highlighted by reaching the top step of the Tour de Ski podium. But the last three seasons have been tougher for her as she struggled with her health and wellbeing; the Norwegian Ski Federation held her out of several season-opening races in December 2019 due to her failure to meet internal NSF health criteria, and she missed the end of the 2019/2020 season after suffering a stress fracture in her heel. She ultimately sat out the entire 2020/2021 World Cup season, and has raced sparingly at best over the past three years.

Now, however, Østberg and her coach are optimistic about her health and her chances for the upcoming World Cup season. “Exercise and nutrition must go hand in hand” moving forward, her coach, Pål Gunnar Mikkelsplass, told Norwegian paper Dagbladet on October 8, according to an auto-translation. Mikkelsplass explained other changes that they are making to Østberg’s training, including an approximately 10 percent reduction in summer training volume and an intentional approach to periodizing fall intensity workouts. 

“We know from earlier that Ingvild has been closest to Therese [Johaug] at [her] best,” Mikkelsplass told Dagbladet, while expressing optimism for the now-31-year-old Østberg’s chances for the 2022/2023 World Cup season and 2023 World Championships in Planica. Read the whole article here.

Therese Johaug enjoys the nightlife, looks ahead to marketing and commenting career

While Østberg eyes a comeback, fellow Norwegian distance skier Therese Johaug has moved on to other things. Johaug retired at the end of the 2021/2022 season, following a too-good-to-be-scripted victory on home turf in the Holmenkollen 30km.

So what did she do in her first summer in decades not beholden to a strict training regimen? There was a somewhat infamous party that left fellow retiree Charlotte Kalla with a hangover and a sinus infection; “my body can’t handle being awake until half past five,” Kalla told a podcast this June. Bacchanals aside, Johaug has been busy focusing on her eponymous clothing brand, she told Swedish paper Expressen on October 9, and looking ahead to her next career move: commenting on ski races for Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.

As for Johaug (the brand), Johaug (the athlete) told Expressen that she is looking forward to being more involved in day-to-day operations of the company. As for commentary work, Johaug acknowledged that it will feel strange to be talking about athletes against whom she recently competed, but that she is looking forward to the change in perspective. Read the whole article here.

Anamarija Lampič rumored to briefly un-retire from biathlon to race at home in Planica

Slovenian sprinter Anamarija Lampič achieved much in cross-country skiing through age 26, including first, second, and third in the Sprint Cup over the past three seasons, and three World Championships medals. Then this spring, following the Beijing Olympics, Lampič announced that she was transitioning from cross-country skiing to biathlon, à la Stina Nilsson before her. Now, however, rumors are swirling that she may come out of cross-country retirement, if only briefly, to race at home in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Planica in spring 2023.

According to in an October 7 article, event organizers are thrilled: “You can just write that I say she is going to participate, then she gets to read it,” said representatives of the Slovenian Ski Association. Swedish sprint star Jonna Sundling told Sportbladet, “We tried to persuade her now while we were at the meeting in Planica, and she has enough FIS points to be able to participate [in World Champs]. The discussion is underway, and we hope we can get her to start. She has not finally decided, but we hope so and she knows that.”

“We want all the good competitors we can get,” Sundling added.

Read the whole article here.

File photo: USST coach Matt Whitcomb gestures at a training camp in Anchorage, Alaska, July 2016. (photo: Gavin Kentch)

Matt Whitcomb talks coaching philosophy

Matt Whitcomb has been a coach for the U.S. Ski Team for many years now, encompassing the last four Olympic cycles. How did he get into coaching? How does he help his athletes on race day? Why is it important to him that his athletes feel like his mood is not subject to their performance? How do you call your family from a pay phone for free if it is the 1980s and you don’t have that much money? Could Whitcomb make like Ted Lasso and be a successful coach in a different sport?

Whitcomb addressed all these questions, and more, in a candid, wide-ranging episode of Carrie Barrett’s podcast, “I Could Never Do That,” on September 25. All joking aside, it is a thoughtful and insightful interview from a man who has been associated with the USST for pushing two decades, and you are guaranteed to learn something from it. You can find it at Apple Podcasts here, at Spotify here, or wherever else you get your podcasts.

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