Thomas Maloney Westgard (27) is an Irish Olympic Cross Country Skier. Westgård was born and grew up in Leka, Norway. His father is Norwegian and his mother is Irish, and he is a dual citizen of Ireland and Norway. He began skiing competitively in Norway at age 16 or 17. In the summer of 2016, he began representing Ireland in the World Cup. It is a solitary life for Westgard, a 15km classic specialist who trains up to 200km a-week on snowy tracks in Trondheim where there is only six hours of daylight at this time of year.
My longest session would be 5 hours, about 58km. It’s a strange thing but when you’re in the forest, often just by yourself and a long way from other people, you often start visualising races and start dreaming about how the event will go.
When did pre-season training start for you?
The cross country pre-season starts in may and ends in October which makes it one of the longest pre seasons in sports. In the summer skiiers have training forms such as running, strength training and roller skis on the road. It might sound exhausting but we also have rollerski competitions during summer which helps the motivation and I love to compete in these as well.
When the season is finished I normally go to my family on a small island on the coast of Norway called Leka. I travel so much throughout the season with over 50 kg baggage so when the races are finished I like to just get time totally off and not think about travel. When I am here I like to go fishing, both on the mountain lake and in the sea.
How long is your 22/23 season?
It starts in early November and ends at the end of April. But the most important races such as World Championships, World Cups are ending in March. All in all the competition season has a duration of 5 months and there is not much rest until the build up for the next season starts.
How much of the year do you travel for your sport?
I have estimated around 200 days a year that I travel to competitions and camps. Most of my camps are in Norway and high altitude in middle Europe while the competitions are all over the world.
Was there a particular weakness you wanted to focus on in training to make better for this season?
Into this season I worked a lot on threshold training to try and increase my threshold speed. This will help me to keep my speed up during competitions. It is inspired by the Swedish Olympic Gold medallist Ice Skater Nils Van der Poel who shared his training methods publicly.
How have your first races of the 22/23 season gone so far?
It has actually gone quite well. I have been in the top 20 several times and right now I am in 38th Place in the World Cup Overall Cup. I have never started a season this promising before and I hope to get even better positions at the races in the nearest future.
Is there a main focus/race for this season?
I have many World Cup races which I aim to do well in. I am better in classic distance races so all those races I aim to go well in. But in particular the 50k in the World Championships is the race that is in my mind every day.
Will you take a Christmas break or is there racing planned soon after?
There is no room for Christmas break in cross country skiing. You have to keep up your training volume during this period because important races and events are coming up. The Tour de Ski, which is a seven stage competition with a final climb at the last stage where we go up an alpine hill, is one such event. The tour starts on December 31st so there is no room for lazy days. This is probably the event I look forward to the most, second to the World Championships.