Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo has been called the Usain Bolt of cross-country skiing as well as Norway’s Justin Bieber. Both those nicknames refer to who Klaebo is as an athlete on and off skis.
Klaebo hails from Trondheim, Norway, where he still lives and trains. Family is important to him; up until this year his grandfather was his main coach. He got his first pair of skis from his grandfather at 2, and as they say, the rest is history.
The 25-year-old is having a potentially historic Olympics at the 2022 Winter Games. He has already won a gold medal in the men’s individual sprint freestyle, defending his 2018 gold medal, and a bronze in the men’s 15km classical race.
Klaebo burst onto the scene during the 2017-18 season, when he held the No. 1 spot in the World Cup rankings heading into PyeongChang. During his Olympic debut in 2018, he earned three gold medals in the men’s individual sprint, the 4x10k relay and the team sprint event.
His accolades aren’t limited to one Olympic Games. He is the most successful male sprinter in World Cup history with 47 individual World Cup wins over his career. He has won four World Cup sprint titles and was also the youngest male athlete in history to win the FIS cross-country World Cup overall title.
As the back-to-back Olympic sprint champion, Klaebo has not lost a freestyle sprint since 2018. He was the first ever repeat champion in the event at the Olympics.
Being the best isn’t an accident. The Norwegian is known for his extreme discipline. He trains upwards of 100 hours a month. However, he doesn’t mind all the hard work, calling his racing the “best job in the world.”
His success in PyeongChang left the skier hungry for more. He has said he works every day to achieve the same feeling he had when he won gold in PyeongChang. The Norwegian has a storied rivalry with Russian Alexander Bolshunov. However, Bolshunov tends to win the distance races, while Klaebo remains untouchable in the sprints.
He also knows “what was good four years ago, isn’t good enough now.” Leading up to the 2022 Winter Games, Klaebo left the comfort of home to go train in the Italian Alps to get his body used to the high altitude and difficult conditions he would face at the Olympics.
With three races remaining, Klaebo has the potential to make history at the 2022 Winter Games. He could become the first cross-country skier to win four gold medals in a single Olympics. There’s not just a small chance it happens, it’s very possible.
His remaining races include the men’s 4x15km relay, where Norway is the defending Olympic champion and has won every world title in the event since 2001. His next race after that will be the men’s team sprint, where Norway has also won the last two world titles with Klaebo a part of the team. Finally, he will race in the men’s 50km freestyle event where he will look for redemption. The Norwegian won the race at 2021 Worlds but was disqualified for obstructing his rival, Bolshunov, during the classical version of this race.
Outside of competition, Klaebo has a large presence on social media. He has a weekly vlog that he uploads to YouTube with his channel receiving over 12 million views since he started. The Norwegian has said he wants to share what it’s like to be a cross-country athlete and to show the fun side of the sport outside of racing. It’s also another chance to stay close to his family, as he and his brother work on the videos.
Despite being so young, Klaebo is already a great ambassador for the sport. He’s advocated that “sports should be fun” and lives every day to show that to young athletes. The title of “Greatest of All Time” tends to be overused, however when it comes to cross-country skiing and Klaebo it may not be out of the question. At only 25, the Norwegian is just getting started.