This year in May, the Czech Cross-Country national team got a reinforcement. Ilkka Antero Jarva of Finland took over the team as the head coach. After a few weeks, it was time for the Czech Ski Association to ask Ilka a few questions.
How are you getting used to new conditions?
Everything has been going very well. The Czech system is at a good level. There are many good people who are working hard. The communication has been improving all the time. I've been able to meet all the athletes and colleagues. There are many things that the Finns and Czechs have in common, so it has been easy to work together. Czech and Finnish Cross-Country skiing has had similar problems and challenges
Do you know the complete team?
Yes, I do. We have had two camps together. I have met everybody, and we started to work together. As I said, there a lot of people who want to work hard. And that's exactly what we need. The team has a good potential but in our sport it takes time to make changes. You have to be working hard for a few years to see things move in the right direction.
How does the training scheme look like?
We have done a lot of low intensity, level 1 training to have a good base for hard workouts in high intensity later on. We focus on the correct technique both in classic and skate. It's important that our athletes train correctly. At the end of the summer we are going have many hard workouts both in high intensity and volume. After two easier weeks in the autumn there will be two competition weekends and two or three camps on snow.
How has been the cooperation with the Czech coaches?
It has been very good. Both guys are very enthusiastic and hard working. I like their approach to coaching, they are not afraid of new things and they have a good attitude to athletes. They also have very good university education and they have been improving their english skills in active way. We have a lot of fun during camps, which is also very important.
Are there any significant differences in the Finnish and Czech training systems?
I would say there are no big differences. In Finland we spend a lot of time on training process analysis. The communication with athletes is very important. We want our skiers understand the way they train. Czech athletes tend to go directly to work and do not talk and think too much about the training. I think the best thing is to combine both approaches. Athlete need to be ready to train hard but at the same time they have to be able to analyse and understand the training.
What are you going to implement in the training with the Czech team?
I want to make more tests, which are useful indicators for the training itself. I want to have the recovery phase more under control with morning heart rates and sleep analysis. It is necessary to plan and analyse better individual athletes' needs. From the age of 15 - 20 athletes should increase the total training hours. We have to work more on the speed, because faster skier always wins. Last but not least athletes have to be more responsible for planning and controlling of their training.
Have you already laid goals for the Olympic Games in PyeongChang?
No, it's too early. My job is to develop the Czech Cross-Country skiing system as such but I am also responsible for results of the national team. Our goals should be top 6 in individual competitions and ladies and men should aim at top 8 in the relays, if not at the Olympic Games then at the World Ski Championships in Seefeld.