“I will remember my second place for a long time!”

The strongest Russian Nordic Combined athlete, Ernest Yahin, has been a World Cup starter for six years. But this season, he has found a confidence on the hill and showed that he could fight and beat rivals and really filled out his role as leader of the Russian team. Anastasia Shuhova spoke to the Russian number one for TUESDAY TALK.

Ernest, it was your best season to date. What can you tell us about your thoughts and impressions?

Ernest Yahin: Thank you. Yes, indeed, it was a very good season for me but I took away different impressions. I had both very good and very bad competitions. This season was very long with lots of important competitions and now I'm quite tired and empty.

What moment was the most important one for you this winter?

Yahin: Of course, it was the Olympics! I had prepared for this tournament for four years. I hoped for better result but that's sport. It's has still been a good experience. It was so windy on the normal hill and the weather changed very often. In addition, I had had to prepare my skis all by myself because there we did not have Russian service staff in PyeongChang. 

How do you feel about the past World Cup season? 

Yahin: It was much better for me. I can say the World Cup gave me many positive emotions. In the middle of the season, I was able to enter the top 30 at the European stages. I showed a new career-best result in Hakuba. Of course not all starts were so successful. Sometimes, I had really had to endure the first kilometres of the course but I always finished. I was sure: this was the only start, then everything would be better. Besides, the new rankings "Best jumper" and "Best skier" added motivation. 

You were on the podium at the Continental Cup stop in Nizhniy Tagil. Did you expect this result? 

Yahin: Actually, no. Of course, I wanted to do my best but I wasn't as strong in cross-country skiing as in January anymore. I didn't expect this result and maybe that helped me. Honestly, even after my good jump in the Mass Start event, I didn't think about the podium. I even didn't watch the rest of the competition. I was in the wax-cabin. When my teammates came to congratulate me I thought it was a joke and asked to see the result list. I will remember this second place for a long time! 

At the end of the season you won the Russian Championship races twice. What do these medals mean to you?

Yahin: Yes, I've been able to collect lots of medals at the Russian Championships but every race means a lot for me. My teammate, Damir Hinsertdinov, for example, ended his career. So now I won’t achieve medals in team events any more as there are only young athletes in my team. The program of the Championship is long, it's hard for them. This Championship passed for me very quickly and my flight to 140 meters became the great end of the season.

When did you start to do Nordic Combined? In Russia, it isn't popular, so how did you get involved with this sport? 

Yahin: In my family, we are not professional athletes but I studied in karate-section. I became a Nordic Combined skier by the chance. One day a coach of the ski school came to my class to recruit a group of boys for training. I was interested and at the age of 12 I made my first jump.

What plans do you have for the vacation time now? 

Yahin: Well, now we have a short break, so I have time for studying. I study at the Faculty of Economics, so now I'm writing a graduate work. 

Good luck! And how are you going to train this summer?  

Yahin: Now nothing is set in stone yet. I can't train at home because in Ufa, there are only three small hills available for summer jumping. If I'll train together with the national team, we will spend all summer moving from Chaikovskiy to Nizhniy Tagil and sometimes the camps will be in Sochi. 

There is another opportunity. In the two previous summers I have prepared in Oberwiesenthal, I think this was useful for me. It is perhaps the best place for training. There are a lot of tracks for running and roller skiing and Klingenthal isn't far. It is not surprising that some of the best athletes of the world, such as Eric Frenzel are from theree. But I don't know if it was only for the Olympics or we if will repeat it this summer, too.

And the last question: The preliminary calendars for the Summer Grand Prix 2018 and the World Cup 2018/19 were presented recently. What do you think about them?

Yahin: They are quite interesting. First of all, it's perfect that we will try the Mass Start race on the World Cup level. And the Nordic Combined Triple will move to Chaux-Neuve. It's my favourite place. There are always lots of fans and they support all skiers. If we have much snow and sunshine, it will be a very nice winter celebration in Chaux-Neuve."