MIDWAY, Utah — Where’s Klaebo felt like “Where’s Waldo” this week in Park City. Johannes Klaebo, 26, is Team Norway’s reining five-time gold medal-winning Cross Country ski racer. Local athletes, aware of his high-altitude training in town, kept comparing notes at their own Park City Ski and Snowboard Nordic Team (PCSS) training sessions. They thought they saw him roller-skiing at the Main St. Park City Parade on Monday, maybe that was him working out at the U.S. Ski Team Headquarters on Tuesday, or they swore they saw him roller-skiing at the Ski Resorts’s Farmer’s Market on Wednesday. There were even claims he roller-skied past their school when students were outside for P.E. class on Friday.
Those local athletes took his posters off their bedroom walls on Saturday morning to bring to the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cross Country Skiing venue Soldier Hollow (SOHO) for an invitation-only meet-n-greet-n-ski with one of their international idols. Klaebo signed every poster, t-shirt, roller-ski, baseball hat, ski boot, ski helmet, and water bottle handed to him, and then posed for individual photos with every single participant. Parents who usually text each other to see who could take their Park City athletes the half hour drive to SOHO were texting to offer to drive the carpool this time.
Klaebo held a Q and A with his enamored audience and roller-skied a few laps around the venue like the Pied Piper. Questions were mostly predictable like balancing school and sports and favorite pre-race breakfast. However, one made him and the whole crowd giggle when a single-digit aged girl asked Klaebo what was the name of his cat, to which he replied, “Star.”
He and Park City’s Team USA Nordic Combined gold and silver medalist Billy Demong led the young athletes in some drills and relay races; no sponsorship banners, no race bibs, no starting gun and no finish times, just for fun.
He earned all of his seven medals in just two Olympics, PyeongChang 2018, and Beijing 2022.
Klaebo told TownLift, “I wanted to visit SOHO with these athletes because it looked beautiful when I watched it on tv from Norway for the Salt Lake Olympics.” He added, “I was also lucky this week to roller-ski over Guardsmans Pass this week, it was really nice.”
He’s not traveling with teammates, he’s not on a personal vacation, he’s not part of a training camp or any competition. Klaebo’s in Park City with his father, Haakon, who has also been one of his coaches for years. The father told TownLift, “We are all a part of such a small sport family, globally, and we’re all trying to achieve the same goals, so we all have to stick together.”
SOHO snow cones were donated by Red Banjo Pizza.