Behind the scenes with Linus Karlsson

by Anna Tschirky

Linus Karlsson is an elite SUP paddler from Sweden. He has dedicated himself to the sport by constantly pushing his limits and exploring new waters. His love for the sport is evident in his dedication to training in the most uncomfortable and rough conditions, especially during the long, cold and dark winters up in the north.

Linus was #15 in the 2023 SUP World Ranking sprint category and made it on several podiums in different competitions. He competed internationally such as the ICF SUP World Championships and the Agios Nikolaos but also won the Stockholm SUP Race making him a local champion.

Now that we are looking at the 2024 season it was time to catch up with Linus to see what he is up to, how his winter training routine looks like and we will also talk about his plans for the new season!

Linus Karlsson during the ICF World Championship sprint qualification in Thailand

Hi Linus, it’s great to have you here with the Stand Up Magazine for the first time! Thanks for taking the time to tell our readers more about and how you stay in shape during the winter for the upcoming season.

As far as I’m concerned you’re not just a professional athlete but furthermore also work as a carpenter at home in Sweden. How do you combine working and training?

Yeah that’s right, I’m working as a carpenter back home in Sweden.

It’s always hard to combine training at the highest level and at the same time work. But I’m lucky to have a good set up where I can create my work schedule around my training. 

So this is roughly how a week can look like. 

Monday-Wednesday about 35 hours of work and two sessions a day (2-3h total per day). Thursday I usually sleep in in the morning and then have two training sessions, Friday to Saturday it’s two sessions a day. Sunday is always my rest day! So „work-train-eat-sleep“ is basically what I do.

This sounds like a busy schedule with a lot of training and workload! Can you tell us more about your sport background and what sports you’ve practiced before you started to paddle?


Before I got into paddling, I’ve been competing in motocross and cross country skiing. Motocross has always been my biggest passion and my main sport since I was seven years old until the age of 22! Like I said I also have competed in skiing but that has always been a side thing to Motocross.

Well, to me it looks like those two sports have set you up perfectly for paddling. Nevertheless it seems really cold and dark during winter in the place you live. How do you deal with the conditions and how often do you have to adapt the scheduled training because of the weather? 

I’m living in a small town called Hjo and it’s right next to one of the biggest lakes we have in Sweden. So that’s where I’m usually doing all my training. The lake is about 130km long and 100m deep so it can be pretty rough conditions! It’s more or less always cold water so you don’t want to fall in! But the good thing is that the lake never gets frozen over so I can paddle all winter long!

During winter time we only have a couple of hours with daylight every day so usually I finish work around noon to go out on the water. I’m going out at least two to three times a week. 

Usually I don’t have to adjust my schedule to the weather at all, there is always one way to make it. Of course there are a lot of possibilities to make excuses and do something else but excuses aren’t the recipe for success! The worst weather so far has been -14 degrees Celsius and 11m/s wind for a three hour distance paddle. 

This sounds crazy! But therefore most other conditions have to be peanuts to you then… But tell us, how do you motivate yourself to go out and do the hard work day in day out?

Paddling in rough conditions is no big deal for the Swedish viking

I don’t do anything special to keep me motivated to go out there. I know why I’m doing this and I believe the way I’m doing it will take me there! My motivation goes up and down and that’s okay. Because it’s the discipline that makes me get out every day.

Great answer. A lot of people are waiting for motivation but it’s the discipline that shapes a successful athlete, I agree. Maybe you can share a tip for the SUP community living in a cold climate as well that has helped your paddling in the winter?

Rule number one especially during winter training is to do a really good warm up before you get on the board. 

When it comes to clothes have I probably been trying out all different kind of set up’s. My “hack” is to wear thick shoes (7mm) and open palm gloves (2mm). The rest is all about weather conditions. I’m usually using neoprene pant and a wind breaker jacket on top.

Well that was a precise answer and I hope reading this it will help some of our cold-climate paddlers.

You’re a proud Starboard dream team rider since two years already now. How is the communication with the brand and in which ways do you work together with them? How did it feel when you first got into the team?

Yeah, this will already be my second year with the dream team of Starboard! 

What I like the most about Starboard as a team is how professional everything is and at the same time so familiar. I have a good connection with the team and we have regularly meetings where we discuss races, boards, trainings and our plans.

To make it to the team was and still is special for me! As an athlete I have always strived towards the best of the best, so to be a part of the sports leading brand is definitely a big step in my career.

Oh yes, being a Starboard dream team rider definitely is THE DREAM of many upcoming athletes and I’m sure there are a lot of great moments coming up with the team this year! 

Let’s conclude this interview by sharing some of your goals and plans for the 2024 racing season.

My main focus for this year is the ICF European Championship in Hungary, the ISA world championship in Denmark and the ICF World Championship in the United States.

Besides that will I compete at several EuroTour and ICF events.

It was a pleasure to talk to you Linus and I hope our readers could gain a closer insight about you as a person, your training and way of living. Thank you a lot for taking the time! 


Anna Tschirky is a respected SUP athlete with many great successes in her life. She has been a member of the Stand Up Magazine team since the beginning of 2024.

Social: @annatschirky