Brothers on Skis: The Pihos (EST)
One thing that is definitely unique to Nordic Combined is the number of brothers involved in the discipline. Once a family member is hooked, the fascination seems to spread, leading to an astonishing number of brothers currently competing on the highest levels of the sport. The new weekly series „Brothers on skis“ tries to explore the special situation of travelling with and competing against a brother.
The second edition features the Nordic Combined family Piho from Estonia. Next to Kail and Han Hendrik who are actively competing on the Nordic Combined World Cup, older brothers Kaarel and Mats have also been involved in Nordic winter sports.
What is the best thing about having your brother(s) involved in the same sport/occupation as you?
Kail: In our family there is not only me and Han as athletes, we also have our older brothers Mats who was a ski jumper and Kaarel who was a Nordic Combined athlete but they have quit for now. The best thing was getting the old equipment from our older brothers. (laughs) But on a more serious note, the close support and being able to discuss different things about our sport and how to find out the right way to go is very helpful. Han is the best training partner I could wish for. In all the different exercises, we push each other to go harder.
Han Hendrik: At first I must say a big thanks to my brothers! They have been really beneficial for me. At the beginning, they are your motivation, you are pushing harder because you wanna beat them and in the end, they even help you to beat them. (laughs)
Growing up in the sport together: how did you handle the sibling rivalry? Was there ever a point where one of you was really unhappy that the other one (or some of the other brothers) was doing better?
Han: No, I don’t think so. Usually we are happy when one of us doing well.
Kail: Luckily, during the youngster age, we competed in different classes and so there wasn’t so much fighting against each other. Now we feel really happy for each other’s success but I really do not know how will we share the podium in Pyeongchang 2018! (laughs)
How is it to actually compete against your brother in the events? Do you even notice, is he just another competitor or do you even work better together as brothers to reach common goals?
Han: The blood is same. (laughs) Yeah, before the races we usually share our tactical plans and for sure if it’s possible to help each other during the race, we do. But if there is 100 metres left to the finish and the brothers are still together, then I’m already mentally stronger.
Kail: For sure, we work as a team but at the finish line, both of us are on their own and there is only one winner.
What do your parents think about both of you being involved in the sport professionally?
Kail: My mother told me that if this is what I wanna do, it is my free choice and she tries to be as supportive as possible. She is growing different herbs and stuff in the garden and if we feel exhausted, then she helps us to recover with them. Our father helps with the sponsorship issues.
Han: Our parents have been really supportive. Actually it’s sad that in Estonia it’s quite hard to become a professional athlete without the help of your parents or a really really active coach.
You both moved to Trondheim before the last season. Was this big step also easier because you didn’t have to do it alone?
Han: Absolutely yes! Thanks to Kail! He was the hacker. (laughs)
Kail: Yes, it was. The more, the merrier! And together, it is a also bit cheaper. (laughs)
Would it be an especially great moment for you to share a podium with your brother one day?
Kail: That would be a dream come true.
Han: Yeees. We have done it, but not in World Cup so far, damn! (laughs)
Him or you?
In true game show manner, we of course had some more funny questions which we asked each brother separately.
Who of you is more impulsive and more prone to be in a bad mood after a bad result?
Han: Kail. But we both should show more emotions to TV, I guess.
Kail: Definitely me. I have had some bad experiences with having bad results.
Who has more success with the ladies?
Han: Of course me. Kail’s Nokia doesn’t even have the Tinder app. (laughs)
Kail: Well, both of us are single, so there is a challenge! Girls, my phone number is XXX*!
*(Editor’s note: Number will not be published due to privacy protection reasons. Interested parties can apply to email@example.com and will instantly be forwarded ;) )
Who was more of a mama’s boy?
Kail: Nobody - with so many brothers (we are 5 in total) there was always action going on and there wasn’t any time to be soft.
Han: Maybe me. I’m the youngest Piho brother but we are five in total, so it was a lot of kids. I remember during puberty when I went through the vocal change my mom ended phone conversations with “You are Han, am I right?” twice. (laughs)
Whose jokes are funnier?
Han: Uuuh, maybe mine.
Kail: Han's! He is really good at telling jokes!
Who was the better student in school?
Kail: That would be me! I had better exam results.
Han: Kail. When I was 11, I threw my diary at my English teacher. It didn’t end well for me. (laughs)