A corporate supporter of sports, Robit signed a sponsorship and cooperation agreement in 2021 with Hilla Niemelä, one of the most promising young skiers in Finland. Hilla has been keeping a training diary for our readers. Here is a summary of her skiing season 2022–23.
Had a great skiing season. I exceeded myself and my expectations on many measures but left a lot to be desired too. My goals for the season were to compete in the U23 World Championships and finally debut in the World Cup. The season started fast at the beginning of November, and I was in really good shape compared to previous seasons. Right in the first race, I got my best placement to date in the Finnish Cup – a good start for the season.
After the observation competitions early in the season, I made it to the World Cup in Ruka, Finland, for the first time. In my first WC start, I finished in the top 30 in the classic-style sprint. On the second and third day, I also reached the top 40. Based on these results, I was selected to ski for the World Cup abroad. For the first time, I got to experience what it is like to tour overseas. In Lillehammer, I was 37th in the classic-style 20 km – an encouraging experience for a longer distance.
The main competitions in December were the Scandinavia Cup in Östersund, Sweden, which also served as a qualifying event for the U23 World Championships in Canada. I had an excellent sprint day and finished 11th in a tough race. December was a busy month of training.
In the autumn, I started studying Environmental Engineering at the University of Tampere, which allowed me to participate in the Winter Universiade, an equivalent of the World Student Championships. On 9 January, we travelled to Lake Placid in New York State – two weeks in the USA, five days of racing and many great experiences. The most memorable trip of my life; I would go again anytime! I skied two personal gold medals: 5 km classic and 5 km freestyle, and in the relay, I anchored the Finnish team to gold. We had a great team spirit throughout the trip, and I’m sure it was largely because the team achieved top performances.
From Lake Placid, straight to Canada for the U23 World Championships. Despite the long travel days, I was in a good mood for the sprint day. I was really charged, which negatively affected qualifying, but it got better in the heat stage. However, the race day I had so anticipated ended prematurely with a crash, which was a big disappointment. In Canada, I skied one more classic 20 km with little success. I had to skip the last race due to health concerns.
Four weeks in North America left me really tired, and my race performances were hit-and-miss. I did have some successes: I won my first two personal Finnish Junior Championships, sprint and 10 km. I also qualified for the World Cups in Tallinn and Lahti, but I didn’t have much to offer. The energy was ok, but the performance fell far below my level. However, I crowned the season with success in the Finnish championships relay, where our team won silver! I made my late-season top performance right where it mattered and ended the season with a smile.
A new training season is well underway, and my hunger for success has only grown stronger. Once you know what it feels like to throw your arms up in the sky in victory at the finish line, you’re hooked forever!
Thanks to Robit for your invaluable support in my sporting career!
Best regards, Hilla