It is summer in Utah. We find ourselves in the Midwest, and here, the temperature can easily reach 40 degrees in the middle of the day.

The capital, Salt Lake City, lies in a valley bordered by the Wasatsh Mountains to the north and east, and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west.

The landscape is enchanting, bordering on magical, and here lies the world's fastest ice skating rink.
This is where world records are set.

The place eventually became the home of the Olympic ice skater Viktor Thorup.
In Denmark, the sport of ice skating is small, and therefore Denmark's best has looked abroad to be able to realize his goals.

The Olympic skater Viktor Thorup set off at the age of 15. It was the sport of roller skating that, ever since he was a little boy who just loved the speed of racing around the school yard, made him go to France.
Here he was allowed to train with the world's best roller skaters.

But it was speed skating that would turn out to be Viktor Thorup's calling. In roller skating, it often ended in sprint finishes, and Viktor was not a sprinter.

"I would best describe myself as a climber, similar to cycling, with not much power for sprints but a strong aerobic base."

After a conversation with the then Danish national speed skating coach, Jesper Carlson, Viktor agreed to try his hand at the new sport. The surface had changed - from asphalt to ice; And here, he quickly made a name for himself.

"I've only had about 20 training sessions on ice, as I will be No. 3 in the u20 World Cup."

Denmark is not a major speed skating nation, and along with France, it is the only country in Europe without an ice skating rink.
Viktor therefore chose to go on a skating odyssey.

"My plan was to train with different national teams and bring the best from each nation. Finding out how the best become the best.”

And so he did.

Viktor joined the Norwegian national team and ended up training with them for 3 years. He then spent a year in the German team - before moving on and training with the Russian national team.
Now, his journey has led him to the American national team, and that's where we catch up with him. Utah, USA.

When the conversation turns to his career goals, the answer is clear: He wants to win an Olympic medal at the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan & Cortina d'Ampezzo. He has previously earned World Cup silver, and at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, he finished in 5th place.

"I know that if I hit the day, I can win an Olympic medal."

As an Olympic athlete, most things in everyday life are scheduled.

We catch Viktor in the morning. Today's first training session in on the bike. We are at the bottom of the mountain Big Cotoonwood. The landscape is enchanting, but Viktor Thorup is not here to take a "Sunday ride". He needs to log a good training session.

"At 250 watts/avg, it takes 5 quarters to ascend. I always cycle here, and I also cycle back home. So a training session like this adds up to around 3 hours in the saddle."

Being the best is the driving force. He makes no secret of that. And it's precisely that determination that he believes will secure him his first - and only Denmark's second medal in the Winter Olympic Games ever.

In 2014, Viktor missed the Winter Olympics in Sochi by a mere 1.5 seconds. However, it should be noted that it was just a year before that he had taken up speed skating. Until then, his focus had been on roller skates.

"It was a bittersweet experience. Because imagine this; I'm telling you now that in one year you'll be the best 21 in the world, in a sport that you haven't tried yet. It's quite hard to imagine, so that It's clear that when I started to exchange the roller skates and asphalt for skates and ice, the Olympics were not at all on my mind."

After missing the 2014 Olympic Games by 1.5 seconds, Viktor Thorup agreed with himself on one thing: There should never be such a small margin separating him from anything again.

"It's something that I often think about in my life as an Olympic athlete. But on the other hand, it also occurred to me how many parameters I could still optimize on. I was young and didn't know any better. But I did know one thing, and it was that I wanted to be the best skater in the world."

Viktor saw how important nutrition and recovery are for life as a professional athlete. He therefore decided to take a bachelor's degree in nutrition & health.

"That way, I could become my own dietitian."

At the same time, Viktor turned it to his advantage, being a skater from Denmark.
In the past it was usually the negative; Poor finances, many travel days, no training partners, etc., which he had focused on.

He made a choice to make it to his advantage.

He was not locked into a federation, and could therefore put together his own training. That's why Viktor decided to leave, and joined the best national teams in the world.

Learn how the best skaters are the best skaters.

When Viktor switched from roller skating to ice skating, he asked himself the question: How could he keep up with the very best skaters in the world when their technique was better than his?
He knew he could never attain the same level of technique as the Dutch skaters who had been on skates since childhood.

The answer was, and still is: the bike.

For Viktor, the bike has always been paramount to his life as an athlete. Already at the age of 13, he spent 12-14 hours a week on the bike.

It was a good way for him to build a large aerobic base, but also a place where he felt at home from the very beginning.

Viktor's biggest strength lies in his powerful engine, and that's where the bike comes into play. During the spring and summer months, he spends 25 hours a week on the bike while also dedicating time to ice training and other strength exercises. The bike becomes his weapon against competitors who have been on skates their whole lives and may be technically superior to him.

We leave Viktor at his coffee stop in downtown Salt Lake City. Two training sessions remain for the day.
One on the ice; Where there is a focus on swing technique and ice feel. An essential part of the sport. And it must be mastered if you want to reach the top.

The last of the day is in the strength room.

Tomorrow he will do it all again.

This is what it takes to compete for a medal at the Olympic Games.

As we leave the café, Viktor tells one last thing, which encapsulates his relationship with the many endless hours in the saddle.

"Across all the national teams that I have trained with, I have always been the one who was good at cycling."

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