The winter sports season will continue on Thursday in Kontiolahti, Finland. While athletes from many nations have turned down the season this year, there are quite a few Estonians in competition over the weekend.
Fresh off her career-best World Cup seventh finish on Sunday, Tuuli Tomingas is currently in 13th in the biathlon season rankings after two races, allowing her to start in the first group on Thursday.
Johanna Talihärm has also collected a few points this season, sitting at 47th with 10 points. Regina Oja and Grete Gaim will also look for points on Thursday.
The Estonian ladies will start on a 7.5km sprint distance at 5.15 p.m. Estonian time, aiming to stay in pace with series leader Hanna Öberg, wearing the yellow leader shirt for the first time in her career. After Tomingas' clean performance on Sunday, she is 56 seconds back from the first-place Swede.
After her performance on Sunday, Tomingas told ERR there is no cause for celebration over a seventh-place finish as the season just started.
Estonian biathlon men were not able to collect any points over the last weekend, Kalev Ernits was the best Estonian on the regular distance, coming in at 41st. Rene Zahkna was fastest through the spring, finishing at 64th. In addition to the two, Kristo Siimer will also be in the fire on Thursday.
The status of the skiing season could be in jeopardy however, as athletes from Sweden, Norway and Finland have stated that they will not participate in the coming events if the epidemiological situation around the world does not improve. The cold-climate athletes are traditionally the main contenders of the season, playing into the Estonians' hands as points should be easier to collect if the season continues.
Kristjan Ilves starts season with two fifth-place finishes
Nordic combined (cross-country skiing and ski jumping) athlete Kristjan Ilves has claimed two fifth-place finishes to start the season. The 24-year old Estonian came in fifth on last Friday and Sunday in Ruka, Finland, and is currently at 18th on the rankings with 103 points.
The skier told ERR: "I was a little surprised because I knew my level and that a top-ten place could be reasonable, but coming in fifth on two days was a surprise. I was able to be on the level that I was on competing with the entire world."
What has been the reason for success? "A lot of hard work has been done over the last two years. Since I have trained with Norwegians daily and am living in Norway, it is a daily effort to make the jumps glide further," Ilves said.
The Estonian considers ski jumping his strength in the dual-discipline contest. "Perhaps I have been given more for jumping than the track. The body is created more for jumping than skiing, but hard work is behind that. You must be very light, flexible and explosive as a jumper, the opposite for skiing. It is a kind of harmony, keeping two things in balance," he said.
Ilves will also participate over the weekend, in Norway. The World Cup season will continue in Ramsau, Austria, on December 19-20.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste