The digital Lillehammer Para Nordic Skiing Camp 2020 was held from 22 to 25 November with 101 athletes and coaches from 24 nations taking part.
Organised by World Para Nordic Skiing, and the Lillehammer Olympic Legacy Sports Centre, the Norwegian Ski Federation and the Norwegian Biathlon Association, the camp featured lectures by prominent athletes, specialised sessions for coaches and daily workouts, including live streams with the Norwegian Para cross-country team. All sessions were interactive and the participants were able to ask questions through chat or video.
“One of the main things that I picked up is that good is not good enough when it comes to this level. You have to be even better and always try to seek new solutions to become better,” said one of the star speakers, Paralympic champion Nils-Erik Ulset of Norway, echoing the camp’s theme of self-improvement.
Originally scheduled for April 2020, the camp had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was then transformed into November’s digital version with a physical camp now being planned for 2021.
In addition to the nations that are regulars at Para Nordic competitions, the Lillehammer Para Nordic Skiing Camp also had participants from nations that are not active at the top international level yet, such as Australia, Ghana, Iceland, India and Nepal.
Jan Christian Bjorn, a former Norwegian Nordic combined athlete, hosted the sessions.
Speakers included Norway’s nine-time Paralympic medallist Nils-Erik Ulset, three-time World Cup medallist in biathlon Erlend Bjontegaard, four-time Para cross-country world champion Vilde Nilsen, Nordic combined multi-world medallist Mikko Kokslien, and nutrition expert Camilla Maeland.
Among the foreign speakers, there were Sweden’s five-time Paralympic medallist Zebastian Modin with his guide Robin Bryntesson, director of US Paralympics Nordic skiing Eileen Carey, and last season’s overall Crystal Globe runner-up in Para cross-country Cristian Westemaier Ribera of Brazil with his coach Leandro Ribela.
The sessions focused on young athletes and covered such topics as starting out in competitive sport, nutrition, teamwork and the pursuit of top results.
“There is always room for improvement and I think the secret to being a good athlete is not to give up your dreams because sometimes it may seem impossible, but you can make it happen,” Ribera said in his session. “Since I was a kid, I was always extremely competitive and never liked to lose so when I have the chance to do something to get better, I grab the opportunity, work hard and search for excellence.”
In addition to the lectures, camp participants could virtually join live training sessions with the Norwegian Para cross-country team or watch pre-recorded videos with select tips for sitting and standing athletes.
The camp also had sessions for Para Nordic coaches where star speakers and their listeners shared training and equipment tips or went into deeper discussions of how to coach the sport.
Full recordings of the athlete presentations and the Norwegian team training sessions are available online along with more information on the World Para Nordic Skiing’s development initiatives.