Puijo in Kuopio hosted the Finnish summer national championship this year and local hero Ilkka Herola came away with the gold medal ahead of Eero Hirvonen and Otto Niittykoski.
Herola jumped to the top of the competition in the jumping part but only lead with a difference of 0.1 points to Otto Niittykoski. However, the Finnish team leader defended is first place until the finish and beat teammate Eero Hirvonen by 35 seconds.
“I had a ‘flat day’ at the end of the national team camp. That was no real flight, but it was not expected either. From the beginning of the first round to the end of the last round, the roller ski race was exhausting but, otherwise it was a good go”, Herola summarised.
Eero Hirvonen started in third place to chase the duo ahead and rose to second place with the fastest skiing time of the competition.
“The summer has gone well, it's nice to get to the race. However, it was not quite the kind of performance I would have liked. The my shape is probably better than what the competition looked like. I would think that when we go towards winter, the performance reliability will improve with more competitive performances”, Hirvonen comments.
Otto Niittykoski, the young national team athlete who claimed bronze, was satisfied with the course of the day.
“A successful day. Yesterday's training session on the hill brought a lot of self-confidence and today I succeeded in competition. Skiing was really hard with slow rollers on hard terrain, but I reached the podium”, Niittykoski said.
Prior to the national championships, the summer championships for young people under the age of 18 were held as well. The women's under-18 series was won by Alva Thors, 13 seconds ahead Minja Korhonen. Annamaija Oinas was third.
“It was a tough race, it was a really tough fight for gold. We have been able to train skiing really well during the summer. Now we continue the hard work”, Thors said.
In the men’s U 18 category, Nicolas Malacinski set a dominant win ahead of Arsi Tietäväinen (+1:51.0) and Eelis Meriläinen (+2:07.0)
“There has been a lot of improvement on the hill during the summer. I’ll be leaving for the US in a month and training there. This winter, I am set to compete in the Continental Cup”, Malacinski, who lives in the United States, said.