Today’s subject is young Norwegian biathlete Martin Femsteinevik. He was born on the 16th of February 1994 and took part in last year’s Youth/Junior World Championships where he achieved a best placed finish of 5th in the Junior Men’s Individual race. He is obviously very passionate about biathlon and is a pretty inspirational young man as you will soon read!
You can follow Martin on Twitter: @MFemsteinevik
Biathlon is really popular in Norway and therefore really competitive. Why did you want to be a biathlete and how hard is it to get into the team?
I tried biathlon for the first time when I was 6 years old. My dad had a biathlon rifle from when he was young, and I got to try it then. After those shots I really thought this was fun, and it was something I wanted to do more of. So when I was 7 years old (almost 8) I started to compete in biathlon races. After the first race I was so happy and satisfied that I wanted to continue my career. And after that it has just become more and more biathlon for me.
I got another motivational boost were I really said to myself that I want to be among the best biathletes in the world when I was 13.5 years old. At that time I was diagnosed with leukemia (blood cancer) and one of the first things I thought and said to myself was that I am gonna get through this, and come back to biathlon to be one of the best athletes in the world. And I think that when I was sick I saved up so much motivation to come back to biathlon that I could go on for many more years.
It is really hard to get into the Norwegian national team in biathlon. There are many good athletes in Norway that have never been on a national team, but still could have been high on the lists in the IBU cup or even taken points in the World cup. Because of this top Norwegian biathletes always try to become better and develop both their strong and weak sides. This means that Norwegian biathlon still can be really good for more years.
How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?
This season is the first season I am not attending any school. So it will be a new experience for me. In the last seasons I have attended a secondary school were we had training between lessons four times a week. This has really helped me, both with getting through my education with some motivation to perform well in school, and to make me a better biathlete.
Outside biathlon I do not have a social life like other persons of my age. I come from a really small place in the western part of Norway, and most of my friends are or have been biathletes. So I´m social with friends at competitions and training camps. Some might say that I am losing something when I´m so dedicated to my sport, but for me biathlon is life and therefore I think that I´m not losing anything.
Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?
I have some local companies that are funding me, but I also take some of the cost myself. However the Norwegian biathlon union has a lot of money, so when we are traveling to training camps with the national junior team NSSF pays the travel, accommodation and food. And also when competing in Junior World Champs IBU cup or World Cup NSSF pays for everything. So that means that you do not have to be really rich to be a biathlete in Norway.
When it comes to equipment athletes on national teams get clothes from NSSF´s clothing sponsor SWIX and when it comes to boots and skis I have a contract with Rossignol.
Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?
I hope so, but there haven´t been any qualifying races yet. We will have three weekends of Norwegian cup, with a total of six races where the four best races count in the qualifying. The races will be in early December, early January and mid/late January.
What the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?
The best thing about being a biathlete is that I get to do what I love every day.
I cannot come up with anything that I will name as the worst thing about being a biathlete because I like almost everything about it.
If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?
I would steal Martin Fourcade´s way to ski. The way he plays and tries different techniques during a race, from sprinting the last few hundred meters before the shooting to just relax in the middle of a small group on the last lap. He has the ability to change his plans depending on how he and the athletes around him perform. And I think that this is one of the reasons that he has become the best overall biathlete for the last three seasons.
What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).
Today I can´t come up with anything that I want to change about biathlon. The IBU have done a really great job by making biathlon an extremely TV-friendly sport with short skiing courses and man vs. man shootouts on the shooting field. So people think that it is very exciting. Here in Norway most people that I speak with tell me that they think biathlon is the most exciting sport to watch on the TV because nothing is settled until the last shot is fired, anything can happen. And that is what is so good about biathlon. And now the TV-companies make sure we get brilliant pictures both from the shooting range and the track, so I think that biathlon is good as it is today. But we must of course try to develop and evolve biathlon further when that is necessary.
Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)
In biathlon Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is a big role model for me. He has competed in the absolute world class for over 20 years, since before I was born. This means that from the very first time I tried biathlon he was among the best in the world, and he has been that ever since. Also he is Norwegian, and to have a person like him to look up to for a young biathlete has been great. He is extremely detail oriented and everything he does is planned so that he can perform as well as possible. I think that this is what has made him so good. He has always looked at what he can do better and tried to develop himself and his equipment as fast as possible. And this is one of the main reasons I have him as a role model because he has done so much for biathlon in his career.
What’s your typical day like?
I normally wake up 7.30 then breakfast. Start the first training session between 8.30 and 9.00. Lunch 11.00 – 12.00. Relaxing until next training session. 15.30 – 16.00 second training session. 18.00 dinner 22.00 go to bed.
Norway has many world class biathletes. Do you ever get to train with Bjoerndalen or Svendsen or do they help you with tips and advice? Does Emil give free shampoo to everyone?
As I live in western Norway I do not see the world class Norwegian biathletes so often. Most of them live in the eastern part of Norway, about 7 hours travel by car from where I live. But I sometimes meet them when we are on training camps. But I do not train with them or get tips from them now. I guess they are occupied with themselves, and trying to do their best to get ready for a new season.
I have not gotten any shampoo from Emil yet! hehe
Does your rifle have a name?
No I have not given my rifle a name. But considering the time I use to take care of it I might have to give it a name soon. But for now its just the rifle.
Describe yourself in three words.
Impatient, detailed, vigilant
Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon track: Nordic heritage center (Presque Isle)
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Raphaèl Poirèe
Favourite event:(sprint, pursuit etc): Mass start / Relay
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Junior Norwegian championships 2013 (2 individual golds, and best leg time on the relay)
Favourite food: «Pinnakjøtt» traditional Norwegian christmas food, sheep meat with potatoes and mashed turnips
Favourite singer/band: The Killers
Favourite film: James Bond: Skyfall
Favourite sports team: Real Madrid FC
Favourite TV show: Top Gear
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