Cross-Country Talk: Iivo Niskanen (FIN)
FIS Cross-Country News brings you interviews with siblings Iivo and Kerttu Niskanen. Both had a successful and in many ways a breakthrough season.
At the age of 22, with a U23 World Champion title and Olympic gold medal from the Team Sprint, Iivo Niskanen is a true future of Finnish Cross-Country Skiing and will be one of young skiers to watch out for at the World Championships in Falun next year and Lahti in 2017.
Q: Iivo, how did you recover after the season? How will your vacation look like?
Iivo Niskanen: It took me some time to recover: After the long season and after Olympics I was very tired. When the World Cup season ended, I didn’t have much energy left, but now I’ve got my batteries recharged again or at least I’ve started to recover. After the season I was chilling out on skis in Lapland, but now I’m doing everything else but skiing. I don’t have any holiday plans, but of course I get some holiday, probably in Finland and mainly home relaxing and enjoying.
Q: For both you and your sister the 2013/14 season was very successful and you did a real breakthrough. What is the proudest moment of the winter?
I.N.: Winning the Olympic gold in the Team Sprint with Sami Jauhojärvi and becoming the U23 World Champion were the proudest moments. The FIS U23 World Championships in Val di Fiemme was the turning point. I had good Championships and after winning 15 km classic there, the rest of the season went really well. From September until late November I was sick, it was the longest period ever, and when I finally got well and to the top, it was really good turning point for the season.
Q: Do you train together with your sister?
I.N.: We used to train together when we were younger, but nowadays we live in different cities so it is not possible. Every now and then, when we are in same town we train together, but that is quite rare.
Q: Your oldest sister is a fashion designer. Does she give you advice when it comes to fashion?
I.N.: Katri’s clothes are designed for women, so no, I do not wear them. Maybe in the future if she decides to design for men too, so maybe then. Of course I appreciate her knowledge and knowhow, and whenever I have social events or parties outside sport, I can ask her for some tips. My interest in fashion is not so eminent as my sister's. I always manage to look sharp and put together without trying (breaks to laugh) it is soooooo natural for me.
Q: How did the success at the Olympic Games change your life?
I.N.: I hope, that it didn’t change me, that I am still the same Iivo I was before. But I think it changed Finnish Cross-Country skiing and its appreciation among Finnish people. After Olympics I’ve had more duties outside sport, but I really don’t think that it has changed anything to worse or made anything more difficult. Nothing bad or negative has come out of it. Maybe the biggest change for me, myself and I was the great relief to prove myself, that I can ski with the best skiers, that I belong there, that I belong to the top. It also gave me confidence, that I’ve done things right in previous years and I’ve trained the right way.
Q: When do you restart training? What is the plan for the summer?
I.N.: I'm going to restart training in May. Until then I will take it little bit easy. I do other sports, go biking with my friends both on and off road. And in summer I am going to enjoy and train hard, but still leave the biggest hunger and enthusiasm to autumn.