Iivo Niskanen, who has won three Olympic victories, is one of Finland’s greatest athletes of all time, but he is also an exciting person with a good home education. In terms of physical capacity, he is an exceptional Finnish endurance athlete, writes sports journalist Jussi-Pekka Reponen.
Bewilderment was probably reciprocal.
The return flight from the Pyeongchang Olympics in February 2018 was departing from South Korea, and I had crashed into the bench of the plane.
The wish was to be quiet with my own thoughts and start some kind of recovery from a nearly three-week, exceptionally heavy business trip.
The bench next door was still empty, but then a familiar figure appeared next to it, a fresh 50-mile Olympic champion Iivo Niskanen.
Niskanen checked to see if the place number matched, and then an amused grin appeared on his face. I guess there is something wrong with whether I have to travel to Finland next to Reponen.
There in a surprising situation, it occurred to me that now it would be nice to talk to Niskanen as a person to a person and not as a journalist to an athlete.
I had previously wondered that when the opportunity arose, one thing should be checked from Niskane: was he aware that we had one common acquaintance outside the work circles. It was a good friend of my son of the same age as Niskanen, whom I had met a few times.
Niskanen also knew this young man through his family circle. He received the information in surprise but inferred from the look quite positively.
Anyway, we talked about these, and when the situation was special, I took selfies in memory of us unprofessionally.
After the seat belt lights went out after takeoff, the flight attendant went on to invite the Olympic winner to continue traveling in the business class, where it was more comfortable to rest on a long flight.
“He’s not only a great athlete but also an interesting person.”
At the latest now Iivo Niskanen is one of Finland’s greatest athletes of all time, already based on medal statistics.
Only three athletes, a runner, had reached the Olympic victory in three games in a row, over an eight-year period. Paavo Nurmi, skier Veikko Hakulinen and rower Pertti Karppinen.
Read more: Iivo Niskanen shone with his third Olympic gold – and considered the order of importance of things in his life
Niskanen has reached his jackpot at a time when there is nothing left of a kind of unified sports culture.
What makes Niskas especially fascinating is that he is not only a great athlete but also an interesting person. The latter cannot be said of all successful athletes.
Sponsorship and communication research company Sponsor Insight has been researching who are Finland’s favorite athletes for many years.
In the most recent study, published in March 2021, Niskanen was the second most popular only Kimi Raikkonen. Women thought Niskanen was the most popular.
It’s hard to imagine Niskanen’s position at least deteriorating in a future study.
“Niskan has a frantic race.”
In the media as well Niskanen, who occasionally cultivates humor, has remained unabashed throughout his career, although he has occasionally heard from behind the scenes that he knows his position and can also express his opinions in so-called capital letters.
Perhaps the most significant loss of image occurred at the 2015 World Cup in Falun, when Niskanen stubbornly tested the limits of his athlete contract with the Ski Association by performing in front of TV cameras and the media with an energy drink can.
One would guess that today Niskanen is not particularly proud of his boating.
It must have been part of the process during which Niskanen grew into an adult as an athlete, like the then head coach. Reijo Jylhä has aptly subsequently stated.
Various times it has become clear on various occasions that Niskanen has a frenzied competitive drive.
When I first met him in November 2012, he got so hot he barely noticed a cautious interview attempt.
Niska realized that he had finished fourth in the Finnish Cup competition in Rovaniemi. At the time, he was 20 years old and on his first season on the A national team.
Of course, even more coal Niskanen went to last winter’s World Championships, when in his main race, within 50 kilometers, communication within the team stuck in the exchange of skis.
“Say now fuck number, number one or number two!” Niskanen wandered on the same German mountainside that happened 34 years earlier Marjo Matikainen renowned Havuja! Devil! -episode.
With his cry, Niskanen became part of Finnish skiing folklore alongside Matikainen, and after a failed race he threw his skis.
A top athlete you have to be somewhat selfish, especially in the individual sport, but Iivo Niskanen can also take other people into account.
A common example of this is that Niskanen looks him in the eye and greets unknown opponents while practicing in his home landscape at Kuopio Puijo.
In his own way, the same attitude is also shown by the fact that after his Olympic victory on Friday, Niskanen was delighted with a great gesture when he received the last Colombian skier to reach the finish line.
Read more: Iivo Niskanen waited for the Colombian jumbo skier to the finish line – a fair gesture delights the world: “Oh, what a beautiful picture!”
Such behavior hardly comes from anywhere other than so-called good home education.
Important part of Niskanen’s sports career – and of course other life – is a close-knit family community. At least in the early stages of his career, his big sister served as an example and a track opener Kerttu Niskanenwhich was on the verge of winning Olympic gold on Thursday.
In top sports, you often hear the phrase that you have to focus on doing your own thing. Iivo Niskanen has certainly done this, but as an athlete, he has always looked around and been interested in what others are doing.
Already at the Sochi Games in 2014, which brought the first Olympic gold of his career, it became clear that Niskanen tirelessly watched videos of the performance of star skiers, especially in his junior years. Just in terms of learning and especially in terms of skiing technology.
Still, Niskanen may even browse the results of national skiing competitions online.
When Harri Kirvesniemi told HS about accurate readings from his career about a year ago reading the maximum oxygen uptakethrough the bend came the news that Niskanen had been quite interested in that article.
“He is an endurance athlete with exceptional physical capacity.”
Own Niskanen has not agreed to speak directly about his oxygen uptake, but it is clear that he is at least close to Kirvesniemi’s readings.
One of the cornerstones of Niskanen’s success in skiing is that he is a Finnish endurance athlete with exceptional physical capacity.
He has also unequivocally and flawlessly managed to test his entire wild potential in the championships since the 2017 Lahti World Championships.
Very A significant person in Niskanen’s peak years has been coaching him since 2013 Olli Ohtonen.
Regular, analytical and systematic, Ohtonen brought balance and stability to the occasionally impulsive Niskanen training. Chemistry works, and trust is seamless.
During the optimized training, the duo has utilized accurate load monitoring and developed a successful recipe for preparing for the competition. According to Ohtonen, Niskanen’s strengths include the ability to recognize disorder in his own body exceptionally well.
For this season, the duo returned to “their own template,” as Niskanen put it, and it produced a perfect result.
The investment in previous years to develop skating capacity has so far been best rewarded with a bronze medal in the combined competition.
Niskanen has been this season the best version of itself and was able to meet – once again – huge expectations for success. In that sense, too, he is an exceptional top Finnish athlete.
When return journey had progressed to Finnish airspace four years ago, Finnair’s Airbus A350 Air Force Hornet fighter to honor especially from Iivo Niska, but also on the same flight, winning three medals Krista Pärmäkoskea. The pilot waved the Finnish flag in the cockpit.
It would come as no surprise if the same thing happened on the return flight of these races as well.
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