MTB Team RacersGUNN-RITA DAHLE FLESJÅ
The last season saw the return of Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå to the winning circle in the Olympic Cross Country format: Under very bad weather conditions, the seasoned Norwegian crowned herself as European champion in Moscow. She also managed to win two Worldcup races in La Bresse and Val d’Isère respectively. This brought her total of Worldcup wins to 28, equalling a record that Julie Furtado had set in the 90ies and that seemed to be for eternity. In the Worldcup’s overall standings Dahle-Flesjå finished in second, and at the end of the year she was placed in third in the Cross Country world ranking. London’s Olympic games were a huge disappointment for Gunn-Rita however, as a crash and a mechanical took her out of contention. But she returned to win first a silver medal at the world Cross Country championships in Saalfelden, Austria, and then another silver medal at the World marathon championships in Ornans, France, one again proving her versatility. As the finals of the 2013’s Cross Country Worldcup are going to be held in Norway, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå will be poised to finish the season on a high note.
worldranking 3 (previous year 6)
size 173 cm
weight 59 kg
place of residence Stavanger (NOR)
date of birth 10.02.1973
learned job Journalism
coach Kenneth Flesjå
hobbys writing / reading and playing with my little son
marital state married to Kenneth / one child
2012 1st European Cross Country Championships, Silver at both the World Cross Country Championships and World Marathon Championships, Worldcup finishes: Winner in la Bresse and Val d’Isère, 5th at Mont Saint-Anne, 7th at Windham, 8th at Nove Mesto and Houffalize, 2nd in the Worldcup’s overall standings
2011 1st European Marathon Championships, 1st Norwegian national Cross Country Championships, Worldcup finishes: 3rd at Val di sole, 4th at Nove Mesto, 6th at World Championships Crosscountry
2010 Silver medal european championshipsmarathon, 6th world championships marathon, 3rd Roc d’Azur (Cross Country)
2009 1st European marathon championships, 1st Norwegian national Cross Country championships,1st at Montebelluna’s Gunn-Rita-Marathon
2008 World marathon champion, 7th at World championships Cross Country, Worldcup finishes: 1st (Madrid), 5th (Mont Sainte Anne), 6th (Houffalize), 8th (Fort William)
2007 2nd Worldcup Houffalize, 3rd Worldcup Offenburg, 1st at MTB Bundesliga Münsingen, 1st at Sunshine Cup in Nals, 1st at Gunn-Rita Marathon
5 questions, 5 answers with a 9 times World champion
Hi Gunn-Rita, first of all: Congratulations on your great success!
I really crossed my fingers for you throughout the marathon world championship race and I was truly happy when you made it! Nine times World Champion… Unbelievable…! Still, for your fans I have a couple of questions on the race and your season. (Click for the interview)
1. As one of only a few ladies competing at the international top, you are racing both XC as well as marathon. Might this mix have been your advantage in Kirchberg (regarding liveliness, technical level of the XC World Cup race tracks, …)?
GR: Yes and no...The top speed in XC is higher, especially out from the start. The disadvantage coming from the XC scene is that we have never time for racing marathon during a season and with a course like in Kirchberg, it is very hard to do such long and steep climbing when you are not used to it. The last downhill at the Worlds this year, was really my favorite part of the race. Long, technical and with lots of high speed.
2. Winning the XCM World Championships shortly after you turned 40 might have surprised some. Or did you rather take advantage out of this (regarding experience, long-term endurance, …)?
GR: In many ways this track in Kirchberg was one of the hardest I have ever done because it took power and a big engine, but also a lot of mental substance. Riding uphill for more than 60 minutes with a steady pace, pushing the legs to the limit, it all comes down to how you handle this mentally. Together with Kenneth we work a lot on this for the last two weeks on training. Keeping focus on breathing, proper bike handling, pedal stroke, loose grip on the handlebar and using as little energy as possible in other parts of the body than the legs. I also knew that I would meet the "wall" several times during the race and was prepared that this would be a very painful part of the race, but had to push trough this no matter what. The age is no limit. It is all about working hard, priorities and passion...how much you want to become a champion again.
3. Riding your MERIDA BIG.NINE, you relied on the advantages of a Twentyniner bike. Most likely there was no real alternative to that, was it?
GR: I`m riding the best bike there is and the BIG NINE gives me comfort both up and down, good grip, a big advantage on technical parts and great rolling characteristics. With the setup I have on my bike and the equipment the Multivan Merida Biking Team is using, I trust my bike to 100% in all conditions.
4. Before entering the last downhill section you even found time to have your front wheel changed to another one suiting this last challenge better. Being that close to winning a World Championship, where did you take this calmness from, relying on everything going well during this stop?
GR: Everything we do in a big and important race as a World Championship, is planed down to the smallest details. The decision to change the front wheel for the last downhill was taken many days ahead of the race. If it was raining heavily, the plan was to change both wheels. I also knew before the start that no one could beat me down the last part so I was pretty calm when Marco changed the wheel. What worried me most was if I could stand on my feet while waiting those seconds it took to change it.
5. What’s up next? Where can your fans watch you racing and wearing the rainbow jersey?
GR: Join us for training in Livigno! I will wear my rainbow jersey every day when I ride my bike...and that will be the case for a year now :-) Racing marathon is extreme so it is not an easy combination when the main goals are in XC racing. From now on it is the World Championship in SA at the end of August, and the WC finale in Hafjell two weeks later, these are the main targets and that means there will be no room for marathon racing in this period. I will race a big marathon event in Poland on the first weekend of October and perhaps I do one or two more marathon races at the end of the season.
Thank you very much for taking your time.
And of course enjoy celebrating your success!