Andreas Bjornstaad Trains in Flagstaff, Arizona

Norwegian Paralympic Bronze Medalist, 2016 Rio Bronze medal in men’s 400-meter freestyle.

Olympic Training

Before my recent transition to cross-country skiing, I was a swimmer. I swam for the Norwegian Olympic team and Paralympics. Though I was born with a muscle disease that makes it hard to control my muscles, I began swimming at 8 years old, then competitively in high school at the age of 15. My first time training in Flagstaff was in 2016 to prepare for the Rio Olympics. I visited again in 2017 preparing for the world championships in Mexico City, which was unfortunately postponed due to an earthquake. On average, I spend 150 days traveling to destinations at high altitudes every year, spending about two to three weeks in each location. Flagstaff can be considered home-away-from-home.

Memorable Favorites

One of my favorite things about coming to Flagstaff is spending my evenings outside in the fresh air enjoying the sunsets. A memorable moment was fulfilling a lifelong goal to visit the Grand Canyon. I clearly remember our team drove to the Grand Canyon to take a break from training. Part of Flagstaff’s attraction is the ability to get out and rest. The team stays in hotels near the NAU campus which provides easy access to some great restaurants... the 1899 Bar and Grill is among my favorites.

Quality Facilities

During my high-altitude training in Flagstaff, the Aquatic Center facilities on the NAU campus were perfect—convenient, quality, and inspiring-- especially the new 500-meter pool. Though I qualified for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics in swimming, I pivoted due to a chlorine allergy, and am ambitious to compete in Beijing 2022 in cross-country skiing. Thankfully, The Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort is located in Flagstaff where I will continue my high altitude training.

About the Author

Swimmer in a pool in Flagstaff

Andreas Bjornstaad