EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: MTB star Annika Langvad details double life

Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team

Danish XCO mountain biker talks teeth, training, Albstadt and 2018 title quest.

Denmark’s Annika Langvad has managed to combine a highly successful career as a cross-country and endurance mountain bike rider along with a burgeoning career as a dentist.

The 34-year-old started taking mountain biking seriously a decade ago and has since gone on to win five world titles, while undertaking the exhaustive studies needed to be a qualified dentist.

Here is what the Silkeborg native had to say ahead of the second 2018 race in Albstadt after she stormed to victory at the Stellenbosch season opener:

1) How determined are you to be successful again this season? You won Albstadt in 2016, but crashed twice last year, so is it a track that you are comfortable on?

I’m really excited to get back to World Cup racing after a good break since the first one in South Africa. I like the Albstadt course. It’s extremely demanding. The main challenge is to not go over the limit, but to pace yourself well for the entire length of the race.

2) What does your typical training week consist of leading into a big event? How many miles do you do in a training week?

I try and put in a good training load leading up to the big events. First I work on my base with many miles on the road and MTB. Then as we get closer to the race, I work more on race pace and high intensity training.

Most importantly I try and listen to my body and be careful not to overdo it. Often that’s where I easily get sick or feel worn out. It’s a super fine balance and a constant challenge to get it right.

3) How important is it to have something to focus on outside of competition like dentistry?

I think there’s a lot of benefit in having something else to focus on besides racing. That being said, you also need to remember to get the needed rest, instead of just filling out every blank space in the calendar.

For the head, it’s important to get completely out of race mode in order to maintain the hunger to race, push yourself and be fast.

4) In 2009 you said that it all got a bit much combining pro riding and dentistry studies, so did you ever consider giving up one or the other?

In the spring of 2017 it was extremely hard at the same time. The challenge was that I couldn’t do the study any different since all I had left were the final courses where the workload is enormous. Added to that was the fact that I had had my studies completely on hold for those last couple of years, so it made the whole thing even more challenging.

I went back to finish my studies straight after the Summer Games in 2016. I thought it was a good time to get my education done so I didn’t have to worry about school anymore. I actually started my studies in 2006, and only started mountain biking a few years later.

When I slowly got more and more hooked on the mountain bike thing and wanted to see how far I could get with that, I started to cut back on courses at school, in order to have time for training, racing and travelling. Several times I took a complete break from my studies, but never did it cross my mind to give up dentistry.

When I got to a level with my sport where I could actually do it for a living, I was already quite far with my studies and so it made even less sense giving them up. I am very grateful that Specialized supported me when I finished the last bit of my studies last year. It’s a privilege to have a plan for the future when I no longer am a professional bike racer but now I just really enjoy what I do and having only one full-time job!

5) What made you more nervous, standing over a patient before an exam or on the start line of a huge MTB race?

Haha, that’s a good question! At my final exam last year, which is a huuuuge one, I was pretty nervous since I felt so unprepared. I simply didn’t find the time to read up on stuff that I learned many, many years earlier so that was definitely one of the most intimidating moments of my life.

6) Is there a dental practice where you work now when not competing or is the plan more to move into it when your professional MTB career is finished?

Ever since I walked out the door after my final exam about a year ago, I haven’t looked back. Right now I just enjoy doing what I do and then one day I can easily see myself working as a dentist and part of me looks forward to diving in and exploring that world. But until that moment, I’m not spending any energy on dentistry.

7) Do you ever worry about hurting your own teeth with a crash over the handlebars?

Hehe, no not really.

8) How regularly do your rivals ask you for advice about dental health?

On a few occasions, I have been able to give people advice when they came to me with infections or pain. Mostly my advice would be, “I really think you should go and see a dentist as soon as possible!”

Watch all the UCI MTB World Cup on Red Bull TV HERE.


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