"The best position in years": Estonian team ready for Sochi
After head coach Tambet Pikkor and his team presented the plans for the season at a press conference in Tallinn earlier in October, the last training camps are now in full swing and everybody is getting ready for the Olympic season.
"We can look towards the new season from the best position in years. We can start in the World Cup with four athletes", head coach Pikkor stated. "We are still working on getting the qualifications so we can send four plus two athletes to Sochi." Next to the Olympic highlight, team youngster Kristijan Ilves will take part in the Junior World Championships which take place in Val di Fiemme from the 27th of January to the 2nd or February. Competitions in which the 16-year-old who already claimed a bronze medal in Liberec last season will be a force to be reckoned with.
The team was also able to attract another sponsor who will round out the full package of sponsors already on board, showing the growing interest in the sport of Nordic Combined in Estonia. "We decided to support the team in Nordic Combined because of its dedicated work with young athletes whose development and preparation for the Olympic games we can contribute to now. Estonia had two top contestants in this sport years ago and we hope that the youngsters can reach the same level again", CEO Andres Matkur of the new sponsor explained the initiative.
For the team, the remaining time until the season start was well used. Around the 28th and 29th of October, a jumping camp in Planica was on schedule and the athletes took the change to visit the factories of equipment manufacturers Elan, Dali and Slatnar which are located in a 30 km radius in Slovenia.
From the 29th of October until the 10th of November, the team lived and trained in Val Senales at an altitude of 2000 metres and went up to the glacier at 3000 metres for the special kind of boost which altitude training can give to athletes. Directly after this period two more days of jumping training in the ice track at Oberstdorf were on schedule.
Roomet Pikkor, manager for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined at the Estonian Ski Federation is confident that the efforts will pay off: "With the newly acquired confidence of the last season, our Olympic team will be a strong one given the opportunities we had for quality preparation and fulfilling the athletic goals. Hopefully the winter will verify that the boys have developed well and will to able to compete in the top level."