72-year-old Morten Kristiansen exercises 15 hours a week and competes in ski races such as Vasaloppet and Marcialonga. His goal? To win Birkebeinerrennet in his age group when he turns 75.
there is always more to discover
Lillomarka ski arena, end of March. The slushy snow tracks and green trees reveal that the winter is over. But that doesn't stop Morten Kristiansen from double poling up the hill, exclaiming: "nice weather today!" to another skier.
Always exercised a lot
– The trick in double poling is to have flexible knees and put the body weight on the poles, Morten explains. After 4160 km on skis and 3000 km on roller skis last year, he has become used to the new, modern double poling technique, which is quite different from the one he learned as a child.
There is no mistaking Morten's passion for training at home in his house in Lørenskog. Next to the family photos, there are photos and prizes from ski races. After completing 18 Vasaloppet, 31 Birkebeinerennet, 19 Trondheim-Oslo by bike, New York Marathon and ski races in Svalbard and Iceland, the medal cabinet is full.
– I’ve always been into aerobic exercise such as cross-country skiing, running, cycling and football, Morten says and shows a lifetime amount of skis in his professionally equipped ski waxing room.
Tom Morten Kristiansen
LIVES: Oslo, Norway
FAMILY: Partner Bjørg, daughter Marte, 32 years
ACTIVITY: Cross-country skiing, road cycling, running and
A childhood rich in outdoor experiences
Morten was born in Oslo in 1950 and had a simple upbringing.
– Our parents couldn't give me and my siblings material things, but they gave us family memories outdoors. We hiked with matching red hats and were called "the elf family".
Morten worked as an electronics engineer for 34 years. His colleagues got him into road cycling, and he started to bring his bike on work trips.
Morten's wife Heidi also had an active lifestyle. Together they had a daughter, Marte, who used to keep Morten company in a ski sledge.
– My advice to parents of young children is to give each other freedom, and to bring the children out on activities when they get older.
Morten and Heidi got 37 years together. In 2012, Heidi died of cancer, 60 years old.
– It gave me perspective. You have to make the most out of life because one day, it's all over.
Cross-country skiing gives quality of life
Morten got through grief with his friends' support, and cross-country skiing helped him find joy in life again.
– Cross-country skiing is close to my heart because it is a total experience: great exercise and an incredible nature experience. And I have got to know people I would never have met if it were not for skiing. It gives me a quality of life.
3 advices from Morten
"I want to find out
how good I can become"
Trains like a professional athlete
Morten exercises 15 hours a week, usually in the middle of the day after sleeping in. In the winter, he skis in the nearby ski arena every weekday, and most of the weekends, he competes in 10 km races and long-distance races such as Marcialonga, Toblach Cortina, Vasaloppet and Birkenbeinerrennet. In the summer, Morten roller skis with friends three times a week and have coffee together afterwards. On other days, he hikes with his partner Bjørg, cycles and plays football once a week.
According to Morten, the secret to being able to train that much is to stay injury-free. That's why he is careful when going downhill on roller skis and never runs on asphalt anymore. Packing a heavy rucksack and walking in unpaved terrain is gentler and gives an equally good training effect.
Want to find out how good he can become
Morten's goal is to win the Birkebeinerrennet in his age group when he turns 75.
– What drives me is to see how good I can become, Morten says.
He still does new personal bests in skiing, even though he has lost some flexibility and muscle mass with age.
Although Morten is result-oriented, he trains and competes because it's fun. He celebrates the races with cognac, except for Marcialonga, where he replaces it with Jägermeister.
– That’s another type of quality of life, he says with a twinkle in his eye.
There is always more to discover
Over the years, Morten has learnt to appreciate what he has and can do rather than grieve what he doesn't have. A mindset that helps him to be happy for others.
What are you most proud of?
– My daughter Marte. And my physical shape because I worked hard to get it.
What do you look forward to?
– That my new fell cabin will be finished for ski season and the races to start. And that Liverpool becomes champion again, obviously, Morten says with a smile.
It’s the end of March, and the winter is officially over. But for Morten, the journey to next year’s ski season has just begun.
there is always more