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Christer Skoog trains two Saudi cross-country skiers ahead of the Olympics

Christer Skoog trains two Saudi cross-country skiers ahead of the Olympics

In turn, Christer Skog has coached the national team teams of Great Britain, Sweden, Australia, USA and Denmark.

But no skiers from a desert country like Saudi Arabia.

– It really is a nation c, there are not many who have desert in the country and are thinking of skiing. It sounded fun, but I didn’t know which activity to get in, says Skog.

Rakan Alireza, 25, and Talal Qaid, 23, arrived in Sweden at the end of August. One was a rower, the other a CrossFit coach.

Nobody in my family or friends knew what cross-country skiing was. They think it’s fun to train for six months to try and make it to the Olympics, like backyard Eddie the Eagle, says Alireza.

Training began at the end of August inside the ski tunnel in Torsby, where they rushed forward in calm winds and three degrees below zero.

– We’re probably the only ones who trained in the tunnel nearly every day for two months. The hardest thing was learning everything other skaters had had their whole lives to learn. Alireza says, here you can see 2-3 year old kids skating, and this is when many start.

Although she felt Monotonously, the four- or five-hour training session became an experiment.

– they are great. Maybe it wasn’t like they imagined skiing, maybe they dreamed of being outdoors with snow. This is a concrete tunnel, says Skoog.

Weeks passed and Skog was more than happy with the riders’ progress.

– But when we were alone in the tunnel, we turned laps and then I realized that they could only turn left. Then I had to add that they would also learn to turn right.

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The physical conditions were in place but none of them had ever been on a pair of cross-country skis before.

– You can imagine what it looked like, says Skog with a laugh.

The first week he had to wait for them inside the tunnel, the second week they could keep Skog’s pace.

The third week, I did not participate. Now I don’t have an athlete to keep up with anymore. This is the technique they should be practicing because I never thought I had trained skaters that were so well trained in strength. Stacking suits them best because their upper bodies are incredibly strong.

“Nobody in my family or friends knew what cross-country skiing was,” says Rakan Alireza, a cross-country skier from Saudi Arabia who trained in the ski tunnel in Torsby for two months.

Photo: Amanda Johansson

Rakan Ali Reda is reading Embarrassed when he hears Skog’s praise.

– Krister is very cute, and the only way to know how we’ve evolved is when the competitions start. We knew it was going to be a challenge but it was going to be fun. Alireza says: As long as we don’t compare ourselves with those who rode their lives all their lives, we can enjoy it.

A large part of the training revolves around training the riders in the sprint.

– They don’t have the time to build up the stamina required for longer races. Sprint tracks are usually not oxygen-requiring because there are no long ramps there. Tracks are often quite technical and you have to be fast in the legs, they just aren’t there yet.

Skoog says Saudi Arabia formed a winter sports federation at the end of May.

You want reps for the Olympics, you invest in alpine sports like slalom and snowboarding, you start an ice hockey team and you also want to produce cross-country skaters. It’s a bonus if they can run or sprint at the Olympics in Beijing because the long-term goal is the Olympic Games in Cortina 2026.

This week, the trio move to Grönklitt outside of Orsa.

– It will be exciting and it will come to real snow, but I don’t know how cold it will be, says Ali Reza a little worried.

Green sand dunes become their base during the winter.

– We will tour the Swedish competitions. We may find a little competition at Lycksele at the end of November.

competitions in Bruksvallarna, Ostersund and Fallon are also related.

– Of course it is a bit tense, but I will be before the competition, says Ali Reza.

Skog will participate in the Saudi project in February.

– Then it comes to a four-year contract, I’m not sure I have the energy and the opportunity for that, that’s more of a relief effort. It’s exciting to see what you can do in six months with some who’ve never been on a pair of skates before.

It doesn’t do it completely for free.

– Of course I get financial compensation. I often compare Svens who coached England in football and I am Great Britain in skiing. I live in a camping cabin in Torsby, Svens in a mansion across from the lake.

When the national teams of Nordic countries come to competitions, it is required to have a parking space for the big bus.

– We bring in the Fiat 500, Skog states.