Loppet Foundation

Odd Osland | On Being a Master at 76

This article was posted on Sunday, November 19, 2017

Odd Osland (pronounced /ōd/) is a cross-country skier and a participant in the Loppet Nordic Racing (LNR) training program. 

Odd Osland racing in the Masters World Cup in Switzerland last year.

Odd Osland racing in the Masters World Cup in Switzerland last year.

Coming from the small mountainous farming community of Bue in southwestern Norway, Odd first discovered his love of cross-country skiing at a young age — about 5 years old. As a kid, Odd would go out on cross-country adventures with his brother and neighboring friends whenever they could get away from their chores on the farm.


“I have fond memories of Sundays in late wintertime skiing with friends, and joined by many others from the city, across the frozen lakes, up the hills and valleys to a renown high mountain. From there you could see the North Sea in one direction, and far in the other directions — up to 50 miles.”

Aside from the feelings of nostalgia that it conjures, Odd especially enjoys cross-country skiing because of the opportunity it provides to work hard and get some fresh air in the winter months. It was only natural for Odd to continue skiing when he moved here in 1970, because physical activity is such a big part of the Norwegian lifestyle.

Odd's brother and his friend skiing in Norway.

Odd’s brother and his friend skiing in Norway.

“In summer it’s hiking in the mountains and in winter it’s skiing. So a much higher percentage of the population skis, though most never consider racing.”

US relay team 70-74 class in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, 2012

US relay team 70-74 class in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, 2012.

There’s also the social aspect of it all, getting to know other people with the same interest and being part of a team, that keeps Odd coming back. It’s no wonder he ended up joining LEMONS (Loppet Elite Masters On Nordic Skis), a training group for Nordic skiers aged 30 to 70+, and part of the LNR Adults program.

“It has been a great experience, even though I’m a bit older (and slower), my teammates treat me as equal. With Piotr’s help I’m still trying to improve my technique and stamina. It has been a thrill to train with the team, and I really do appreciate being part of it.”

Odd has been training with the Loppet Foundation’s LNR program for more than five years, through which he’s been able to increase his confidence and technique as he tackles more and more competitive races.

Odd crossing the finish line at the Blinkfestivalen roller-ski event.

Odd crossing the finish line at the Blinkfestivalen roller-ski event.

“For 10 years an annual roller-ski event, “Blinkfestivalen” has been held in my home town, Sandnes, Norway. It has now grown to a 4-day event and attracts the world’s top skiers. After training with the Lemons I had courage to enter the 20 km citizens race which is a new event in the “Blinkfestivalen”. All along the route there were many people, from young kids to seniors all loudly cheering you on, “Heia -Heia”. I happened to finish alone and was met with unbelievable loud cheering. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience!”

Odd racing cross country at Elm Creek last year.

Odd racing cross country at Elm Creek last year.

He’s competed in dozens all around the world, including 12 Loppet and 22 Birkebeiner races, and has made some major strides in the process. He placed 1st in his age class in the American Birkebeiner in both 2012 and 2013, after placing 2nd in his class on three separate occasions. Though despite all of his accomplishments in Nordic skiing, Odd’s advice to the newbie skier is more about embracing the fun of it!

“Be persistent and enjoy winter by being outside with your friends. As we age, we face different challenges that may sideline us from time to time. Don’t give up, keep a positive attitude, and remember how much fun it is to ski!”

From competing in his first Birke nearly thirty years ago to his third Masters World Cup just last year, Odd seems to have no intention of slowing down. This winter he is looking forward to competing in his fourth World Masters Cup, an international cross-country ski tournament which will be taking place right in town at Theodore Wirth Park.

“The atmosphere of racing, then socializing with cross-country skiers from all over the world is special. Great experience!”

For the 2018 World Masters Cup, Odd plans on racing in the freestyle technique in the three traditional races at 5, 10, and 15 kilometers in his age group (75-79). Be sure to say hello if you see him pass you by on the trail!


To find more information and register for the upcoming Masters World Cup, visit mwc2018.com. To learn more about the LNR program and find your training group, visit loppet.org/loppet-nordic-racing.