FIS Cross-Country Talk: Iivo Niskanen (FIN)
Finland’s Iivo Niskanen stormed in the start of the new World Cup season with the a clear victory in Ruka in 15 km Classic, which was also recorded as the first World Cup win for the young Finn. FIS Cross-Country News talked with the Olympic Champion about his stellar achievements and their importance for Finland.
Is it fair to say you are now the leader of the Finnish Cross-Country team?
I'm still the youngest one in our national team, so naturally I wouldn't say I am the leader. I still have a lot to learn from more experienced guys. I try to challenge the others to develop myself, with my actions and words.
The transition between junior/U23 skiing and senior class is not always easy. How did you handle it so well?
I've always try to do my best. In the previous off-seasons, I had so many health problems that I could not make a breakthrough. The most important thing is to train as a man.
What are you strengths and weaknesses?
I think that my strength is good endurance and classic skiing; classic technique is for me more natural than skating. I have tried to build up strength; I spent a lot of in a gym. I have been also working on improving my skating technique in uphills.
Being a rising star in Finland, how do you combine sponsor activities and training?
After the Olympic Winter Games the interest of media was a shock for me. I got a lot of invitations to various events. Off-season is the right time for such events. I have been able to prepare for the winter almost as in the years before.
You are currently the best U23 skier on the World Cup. How do you feel as a role model for young Finnish skiers?
I hope my success will give kids and young skiers more enthusiasm to training. It is sad that the snow situation is really bad again in Finland.
You announced that 50 km Classic in Falun is the main goal for the season. Is it still so or have you modified your goals?
I have many goals, such as success in the Tour de Ski, but I have one dream and that's the 50km in Falun.