MTB Team RacersGUNN-RITA DAHLE FLESJÅ
Last season saw the return of Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå to the winning circle in the Olympic Cross Country format: In terrible weather conditions, the seasoned Norwegian was crowned European champion in Moscow. She also managed to win two World cup races in La Bresse and Val d’Isère respectively. This brought her total World cup wins to 28, equalling a record that Julie Furtado had set in the 90’s, which seemed to have been around for an eternity. In the Worldcup’s overall standings Dahle-Flesjå finished in second, and at the end of the year she was placed third in the Cross Country world ranking. The London Olympic Games were a huge disappointment for Gunn-Rita where a crash and a mechanical took her out of contention. She returned to win 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, once 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.
world ranking 3 (previous year 6)
height 173 cm
weight 59 kg
place of residence Stavanger (NOR)
date of birth 10.02.1973
coach Kenneth Flesjå
hobbies writing / reading and playing with my little son
marital status 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 Championships Marathon, 6th World Championships Marathon, 3rd Roc d’Azur (Cross Country)
2009 European Marathon Championships, 1st Norwegian National Cross Country Championships, 1st at Montebelluna’s Gunn-Rita-Marathon
2008 World Marathon Champion, 7th World Championships Cross Country, World cup 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 9 times World champion GUNN-RITA
Hi Gunn-Rita, Congratulations on your great success! I crossed my fingers for you throughout the marathon world championship race and was truly happy when you made it! Nine times World Champion… Unbelievable! I have some questions on the race and your season. (Click for the interview)
1. As one of only a few ladies competing on the international circuit, you are racing both XC as well as marathon. Do you think this mix is to your advantage for Kirchberg?
GR: Yes and no...The top speed in XC is higher, especially from the start. The disadvantage of coming from the XC scene is that we never have 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 my favoyurite 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. Do you think your age and experience was an advantage?
GR: In many ways the track in Kirchberg was one of the hardest I have ever ridden 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. We focused a lot on this for the last two weeks of training. Keeping my 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 for this to be a very painful part of the race, but had to push through no matter what. 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. Do you think there is any alternative?
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 use; I trust my bike 100% in all conditions.
4. Before entering the last downhill section you found time to have your front wheel changed to suit the last challenge better. Being that close to winning a World Championship, where did you get the calmness from?
GR: Everything we do in an important race, such as a World Championship, is planned 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 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 in the first weekend of October and perhaps I will do one or two more marathon races at the end of the season.
Thank you very much for your time.
Enjoy celebrating your success!