Athlete in Interview: Sami Jauhojärvi
Sami Jauhojärvi is one of the best Finnish athletes on the FIS Cross-Country World Cup. FIS Cross-Country News talked to him about the summer, change of equipment and plans for the coming seasons.
FIS Cross-Country News: Sami, how was your off-season like? Are you happy with your summer and autumn training?
Sami Jauhojaervi: I did not break any records in my summer tests but I am not worried about it. They are hard to break anyway, as I set those when I was younger and more focused on breaking training records. This summer I concentrated only on skiing and raising our son. Nothing would distract me. I had a good training year, I am happy about it.
Q: Where did you mostly train?
S.J.: We had two training camps over the summer in Vuokatti. Then I trained mostly at home. I also spent some time at Ylläs where we have a company cottage. I spent a week there with a group of young skiers from Rovaniemi. I was kind of an idol for them when we trained together. In August, we went for three weeks to Pontresina in Switzerland. In September, we trained on the glacier in Ramsau for two weeks, and in October we spent three weeks in Val Senales.
Q: How has been you shape? What are your plans for the season?
S.J.: The general feeling in my body has been good. I expect a bit better start of the season than last year. I hope to collect some World Cup points in the first competitions. In general, I hope this year to be different. First of all I will take part in Gällivare and Ruka-Kuusamo. Then I will not travel to Canada. We will stay nearly two weeks in Livigno in December. Then I will do the Tour de Ski, and a week after that I will probably do the sprint in Liberec and then Jizerska 50.
Q: How did you train during the summer?
S.J.: Actually we came back to the old system, to what I was doing several years ago when I was younger. I did basic things with 2-3 extremely long training sessions during the week and some strength training as I did before. That is the main point in my training.
Q: How has been your feeling on snow? Is it important to have a good feeling before the season?
S.J.: It always is important to wait and see where I stand with the others at the first competitions even if the feeling in the body is good. It's quite difficult to say before competition.
Q: You made a big change in the summer and changed your equipment. Why did you do that?
S.J.: First of all, the reason was to get much better service on the World Cup than before. There will be two guys that will follow almost the complete World Cup circuit with me and will be preparing skis for me. Plus I will have one service guy from our team just for me. Another reason was I am an old skier now and it was probably the last chance to make this change. I wanted to get some new motivation in the training and competition routine. Another thing that affected the decision was that One Way is a Finnish brand and it's a modern company inside this conservative Cross-Country Skiing world.
Q: What are your first feelings like?
S.J.: I was really surprised about the classical skis, how easy they are to ski. The feeling on snow with a kick wax is really good and it definitely is not worse than with Fischer. Now I need to find the fast skis but the feeling of skiing is easy and good so I think it will be easier to find some well gliding skis than if you had extremely fast skis but without a kick. Also the skating skis are easy to ski. They are little bit different from the material I had before. I always said that Fischer skis are kind of dead beneath your feet. The One Way ski is more lively upside down. Now you know when the ski is on the snow or in the air. We have been working hard before the first competitions in Rovaniemi and Olos to find the right equipment.
Q: Weren't you afraid about the change in the World Championships year?
S.J.: When changing the ski brand, there is always a small risk especially at the beginning of the season but I was not that worried about it. I got two extremely skilled and experienced guys from The World Cup circuit, Yann Vallet and Andy Fuchs. They have been working for other companies on the World Cup and they know how to build a ski. I rely on them and I believe the equipment will be working.
Q: What is your preview to the season?
S.J.: The Tour de Ski will be a good preparation for the World Championships. My main distances in Val di Fiemme will be classical sprint and 50 km classic. The sprint is quite hard in Val di Fiemme; it makes it easier for me compared to sprinters. I am not fast enough to win on an easy track but I have some chances to score a medal on a hard course. When I was in a good shape on the Tour de Ski, I was in an extremely good shape one week after the Tour. I know that if I have 1-2 weeks of easy training it will help me to be in top shape for the World Championships. I am not afraid of doing a lot of competitions. I got used to it already since I was young kid. I competed in many competitions in the winter time. I know it will not be a big risk - it's just about handling the competition load if I have 2-3 free weekends during the winter.
Q: You are an experienced skier. How far are you planning your career?
S.J.: My first checkpoint is 2015, I have planned my career until then. Lahti got the World Championships in 2017 and it was 2001 when I started my senior Championships career. It would be nice to end my career and close the circle in 2017 at home. I will see after 2015 how my motivation is and how the results from the title events in 2013, 2014 and 2015 were. If there are some medals I could even continue until 2018, but we will see. When I see there are young guys in Finland beating me, I will retire in 2015 but if not, and the Finnish team will need me, I can think to continue my career even longer.
Q: You spoke about young skiers. How is the situation now in Finland?
S.J.: Several young skiers have emerged and have joined our team and have been challenging us. But if we look down to the age group between 13 and 17, many kids have dropped out in the last 15 years. Hopefully those who stayed with Cross-Country will get good enough coaching so that from the small group we have they will grow into World Cup athletes who will bring medals and success for Finland in the future. I am not extremely worried about the situation in Finland but I would like to see more people coming inside the Cross-Country family in Finland.
Q: Will the home World Championships in Lahti 2017 help?
S.J.: I am sure about that. It will motivate the people to join Cross-Country Skiing in Finland but still, the bigger the base the bigger the chance for a medal for Finland.
Q: Are there any changes on the Finnish team?
S.J.: The coaching staff stays the same. On the service side, my and Aikku's serviceman has retired. We got a new man, a former skier and frontier guide, Ari Marieta. I know him very well. I was 4 years old when I first met him. He was a colleague of my father, and we lived in the same village when I was young. We have a long history together. He also lives in Rovaniemi. The athletes on the team stay the same as no good skiers retired after the season. I hope the young guys such as Ari Luusua and Iivo Niskanen will challenge us, the old guys, and receive a chance to experience the World Cup.