Tobias Torgersen is the new head coach of the Polish Women’s biathlon team. The Norwegian had a successful Junior career as a biathlete before moving into coaching working with clubs in Oslo and Lillehammer as well as in Switzerland. Before taking his new role the 34-year-old was coach of the Swedish Junior Team.
You can follow Tobias on Twitter: @tobiastorgersen
You competed in biathlon as a Junior. Why did you become a biathlete and why did you stop?
My godfather was national team coach in Norway in the 80`s. He was always an inspiration to me. Plus it appealed to me after watching it on TV like other sports could not.
I stopped after having various health and injury problems from 19-23 years of age, including asthma, heart problems and some serious cuts and broken bones.
When did you become a coach and why did you want to do it?
In the Spring of 2006, just after finishing my career and my studies to be a coach at the sports university in Oslo. I guess I felt that I had “unfinished business” in this sport. And I love the excitement that top-level sports bring.
Who were your coaches when you were a biathlete? What did you learn from them that you now use as a coach?
I had many different inspiring coaches. But Knut Tore Berland taught me a lot about taking responsibility for the goals you set.
You have a new job working with the Polish women’s team. How is that going so far? What have you already done with them and what are the plans for the rest of the summer?
In my eyes it is going really well! We have a lot of fun, and train really well and hard. We are now in Ramsau on our fourth camp (this was in July). Here we got some kilometres on the skis together with the normal summer training. We also had a cycling camp in Mallorca, shooting camp in Kracow, and a camp “at home” in Duszniki-Zdroj. Next on the plan is the Blink Festival in Norway before a camp in my home town of Oslo.
How much time do you spend with the biathletes? Do you send them a programme to work through alone or do you see/speak to them every day?
I see them on all the camps of course which is around two weeks every month. And then I follow up the athletes individual programs in the breaks between camps on email and the phone. How often varies a lot with the individuals, and what kind of training they are doing.
Are you excited about working on the World Cup and going to the Olympic Games? Are you feeling any extra pressure for this season?
Of course there is extra pressure in an Olympic season. This is also my first head-coaching job. But I always focus on the excitement part, and not the pressure.
Do you enjoy thinking up new ways of training and new drills? Is it hard to keep things fresh and interesting for the biathletes?
Of course! I think most coaches do. The important thing is to find the correct mix of new ideas, and doing what you know will give results.
Obviously you physically train the biathletes but do you do a lot of mental work with them too? If so what kind of things?
I would not call it specific mental-training, but we have a lot of talks about how to think and what to focus on at what time. I try to put my athletes in many competition simulations to make them comfortable with these situations.
What do you do before, during and after a race as a coach?
This totally varies depending on what kind of staff we have. I quite often join the wax-team for the ski test.
During the race I like to mix it up between being on the shooting range and on the track. You will hear me loud on the toughest sections of the track! 😉
After the race the main thing is to have a quick evaluation with the athletes and wax team. And then start planning the next race.
Did your rifle have a name?
Hehe, she did actually. Celina. After a childhood friend of mine. A fun coincidence that I would later coach Selina Gasparin. No connection.
Describe yourself in three words.
Enthusiastic, Genuine, Emotional
Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation: (not your own) Now it is Poland. Not just because I work here now, but because of the great atmosphere we have in the team and the warm welcome I have received from the girls and the staff.
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Elisa Gasparin’s “Swiss Mountains”
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy. They always bring nice new designs. Especially the blue and white coaches clothes!
Favourite biathlon venue: Holmenkollen, I grew up 10 minutes from the arena. But Antholz is also amazing!
Favourite biathlete: Michael Rösch. We competed as juniors, and he has been a friend ever since. And you just have to respect a man who has been fighting so hard to get back like he has. He dares to be different, and wears his emotions on the outside.
Funniest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Jean-Pierre Amat of France. The most clever smile, and maybe the best shooting coach!
Nicest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: So many nice ones! But I loved working with Johan Hagström, Matias Nilsson and Anna Maria Nilsson of Sweden for the last three years! Also Anders Brun Hennum of Norway is a close personal friend!
Best thing about being a coach: To be a part of the development of an ambitious athlete that tries their hardest to reach their full potential.
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