Ilkka, if you had to find a word to describe your season so far, “solid” probably comes to mind. Stable Top Ten positions, an overall eighth position in the World Cup - things could be worse but the peaks to the top are also missing. How do you see your season so far?
Ilkka Herola: When I look back, I have to focus on positive overall situation of course. Many things have to work out really well to get to these solid top 10 results. Highlights are something I look forward to have in upcoming competitions!
As the red bib bearer, it’s safe to say that the cross-country part of things is going well. What is missing on the ski jumping side?
Herola: Yes, my Cross-Country skiing has been on very good and stable level through the season. With jumping, the biggest problem is to show my full potential in competitions. For example, almost every PCR jump has been better than any competition jump during the same weekend. There are a lot of good jumps behind the ones that I am showing, so I have 100% confidence that it will start to work out under pressure as well.
Your team leaders have been very proactive to react to the problems and missing metres on the jumping hill that more or less plagued all Finnish athletes and hired Austrian Falko Krismayr as a new jumping coach. You have completed your first training camp with him last week, how has the cooperation been so far?
Herola: The decision to take in a new guy was for sure the right thing to do if you look at our team’s situation. It is clear that the guys needed a clean slate to get out of the "circle of misery".
But that decision had nothing to do with my personal situation, as by average my jumping has been better than any time before if we look back on the last years. It is nice to have new eyes on the hill, there is always something to learn. But I will continue to work with Jarkko Saapunki in Kuopio.
Due to the cancellation of Otepää and the warm winter everywhere in mid-Europe, which made finding replacement venues extremely difficult, we have been in a long competition break the last two weeks. Though certainly not ideal, how are you dealing with this situation and what has been on your daily schedule until the next events in Trondheim?
Herola: These kind of breaks are of course frustrating for us athletes. Basically, we have prepared ourselves to be in good shape for last four weekends. That means solid work and effective trainings, making sure that recovery is full as well.
With Lahti, you have yet one home World Cup coming up and very good memories of your Team Sprint victory there last year. How are you looking forward to the event?
Herola: Lahti is definitly one of the highlights for this season, and we'll of course try to defend our victory!
At the end of the interview, of course we have to ask about your big hobby, your band 90 Degrees. We saw you released a new song in December? Tell us a bit about the cooperation!
Herola: With music stuff, last year was quite productive! Nearly one year of slow progress ended up in releasing an album including 8 songs. It was once again super fun process, and I ghuess we took a step forward musically as well. It was very nice to have some professional musicians (Tomi Tajakka from Steve’n’Seagulls and Emma Balbatsu) on board, even if the level of our production is mostly still garage! Also on this side, it is fun to make things little better every time.
The name of the album is Kehä, it can be found on spotify and youtube: