Swedish cross-country star Stina Nilsson surprised many when she announced in March that she would change sports. Nilsson, 26, stays on skis but takes a gun on his back; he will at least focus on biathlon in the near future.
Read more: Giant surprise! Cross-country superstar Stina Nilsson, 26, changes sport
In cross-country skiing, Nilsson is the Olympic sprint champion from Pyeongchang in 2018 and the world sprint champion in Seefeld in 2019, so the change of sport has attracted a lot of attention.
Some, such as Ole Morten Iversen, head coach of the Norwegian women's cross-country ski team, have stunned Nilsson with his solution:
- I do not believe it? This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I thought she was a sensible girl, Iversen, who had previously coached Swedish national team wives, fired at Expressen in March.
Russian ski legend Jelena Välbe also had rude comments:
- I'm not going to follow his career as a biathlete. It has a girl who is very volatile in nature, Välbe has commented.
Read more: Jelena Välbe silenced Stina Nilsson - she called a bouncer a coward
However, there are many supporters and trappers. Nilsson revealed to Expressen that he had recently had a phone conversation that warmed his mind in particular.
Swedish legend Magdalena Forsberg, who made the same transition from cross-country to biathlon, had wanted to ask Nilsson about the backgrounds of the sport change and wish her luck.
- I don't usually answer unknown numbers, but I became curious and looked at whose number it was. And that was Forsberg. Magdalena had been trying to reach me. It felt great, so of course I called back, Nilsson said.
Magdalena Forsberg changed the sport from cross-country skiing to biathlon, and success began to come. Pictured is a Swede celebrating a joint-start Olympic bronze in Salt Lake City in 2002.
Photo: Jim Bourg / Reuters
Forsberg, 52, is a true sporting legend in biathlon. He won the Biathlon World Cup as many as six times in a row between 1997 and 2002. He is also a two-time Olympic bronze medalist and six-time world champion.
On the cross-country side, the merits of Forsberg remained much dimmer than the Nilsson. He achieved only one World Cup podium place and one honorary medal, the World Championship bronze in 1987. For him, the change of race was an extremely successful decision.
- He was curious as to why I decided to change species. And he said he was happy with my decision and wished me luck, Nilsson said of his phone conversation with Forsberg.
During the Korona period, Nilssson has mainly practiced with his two coaches, Jean-Marc Chabloz, but has recently been able to train with the rest of the Swedish biathlon team.