Swedish sensation Emilie Forsberg is a world-class skyrunner, a ski mountaineer, and trail runner, with numerous world medals and record-breaking times under her belt. Not satisfied with simply breaking women’s records, she’s also smashed through the odd men’s record as well – namely for the fastest time (two hours and 40 seconds) running up and down Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain, in 2014. We caught up with Emilie to find out about her favourite mountain runs, and what it takes to be an award-winning skyrunner and ski mountaineer.
Tell us how you got started with skyrunning and ski mountaineering.
“I’d been running and skiing in the mountains for years – but just for pleasure. I’d done a few local races so I knew I was pretty fast, but it was crazy to go from running and skiing by myself to suddenly competing on an international level for Sweden. I’ve now been skyrunning and ski mountaineering for a few years and competing professionally. It’s amazing!”
Was this something you had thought about pursuing professionally when you first started out?
“I had never dreamed of doing this full time – running and skiing in the mountains was just something I did for myself and then suddenly it all just took off. I got the opportunity to compete in a big skyrace and it went so well that I just carried on. And then somewhere along the way I realised that I liked to race just as much as I liked running by myself.”
Do you prefer ski mountaineering or skyrunning? Or are they totally different disciplines?
“They are different, for sure. I have to say that ski mountaineering (or skimo as we call it for short) really does have it all though: you need to be fast uphill and have great technique, you’ve got to be quick in transitions and comfortable walking on small ridges without crampons, as well as being a good downhiller. To be honest, all those things are important in skyrunning as well, but I think skimo is a little more technical.”
What does your training consist of during the year?
“From May to October I just run: I head up into the mountains and I run for short amounts of time, or go on long runs; I run fast; I run slow. I also do a little yoga and climbing. But from November to April, it’s quieter – I go skiing and do yoga. Year-round, I probably train for around 15 to 25 hours a week. But I’m lucky – “˜training’ is essentially what I would do for fun before this became my career.”
How do you feel competing as a woman in a discipline full of men?
“It would be great to have more women in these sports, but I don’t find it hard to be a woman in this area – I just love what I do. I think loads more people should give it a go!”
What was the hardest skyrunning record that you’ve broken to date, and have you got any others in your sights?
“I think that would have to be the 80km World Championship I competed in last year. It was a hard race! I’m also really proud of the record that I set on Sweden’s highest mountain (Kebnekaise) – I broke the men’s record then as well.
Next, I would like to concentrate on long runs through high mountains. I want to make them as fast as possible. For this summer, I may have a few things in mind”¦”
What’s your favourite mountain that you have climbed to date? And which ones are on your must-climb list?
“Personally, I love the smaller mountains. You know, the ones that are not too technical – where you only need to take a short rope and crampons with you. Mountains where you can just go! Ones like Mont Blanc or Matterhorn, Grand Teton or the Aiguilles Rouges, or even Kebnekaise.”
When you’re not running up mountains you appear to spend most of your time baking. How did you get into this and what’s your favourite thing to bake?
“I always wanted to work as a baker. I was working at the mountain hut when I was younger and my boss sent me to a baking school. It was great! After that, I came back to the hut and I cooked up everything from sweet pastries to sourdough bread.
My favourite thing to bake has to be sourdough bread. Or maybe cookies. Actually, I can’t choose – I love to bake so many things! It’s like running; I can’t choose if I like the shorter races or the ultras better. I love it all!”
Can you share one of your own recipes with us?
I love cinnamon buns. Especially during the winter when the weather is cold and the days are dark. Personally, I think they taste even better after a long run.
You can find my recipe for them below, or have a look at the recipe section on my blog.
500 ml milk
200g powdered sugar
half a teaspoon of salt
3 teaspoons of ground cardamom
125g butter, softened
150g powdered sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 egg, to glaze
- Melt the butter and add milk, heat to about 37 degrees. Crumble the yeast in a bowl and add the milk and butter and stir until most of the yeast has dissolved.
- Add sugar, salt, cardamom and most of the flour, but save a little flour (150g) for baking out the buns. Work this into a smooth dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, which usually takes about 30- 50 minutes.
- Create the filling by mixing the butter, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.
- Put the dough on a floured surface and divide it into two equal parts.
- Roll out the dough into a square about 35Ã—40 cm. Then spread the filling on half of the dough and fold over. Next cut the folded dough into about 20 strips. Twist each strip and fold it into a knot.
- Leave the buns uncovered to rise for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Finally, brush the buns with a whisked egg and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
This makes around 30 buns.
Header image: Matterhorn Ultraks 2014 © Damien Rosso
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Have you tried any of Emilie Forsberg’s favourite skyrunning sites? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Tremayne Carew Pole