In the land of thousand lakes...
There is no just one extraordinary biathlete in Finland. I am sure you got it. After her debut five years ago still fighting for best results tirelessly, despite injuries and sicknesses. With pure joy. With pure love.
It was pleasure to make this exclusive talk with really nice girl Laura Toivanen.
This is her story for you, not just as for fans - but as for friends.
- In the beginning I was just cross-country skier, I started my biathlon career at the age of thirteen. My big brother was first in my family to start with biathlon, then I followed him to the trainings and once I also tried shooting - I was so good at once that I started to love this sport immediately! We were three wonderful girls in our Kontiolahti Sport Club: Mari and Sarianna, who had been on my side since then and Mari Laukkanen is of course still in biathlon! We had fun during the years so I think that’s why we all came through teenage years and we all let ski in World Cups and World Championships!
- Firstly, I love biathlon because it’s a fascinating sport including two very different disciplines: skiing with rifle on your back is physically demanding, and then you need to shoot focused and be mentally strong. I love this combination and I enjoy the trainings. Secondly, it makes so much fun and it surprises me every time! Thirdly, I make friends for forever and this networking gives me a lot of experiences I would otherwise never get!
- I really enjoyed the last season, even though I didn’t get the personal best results that I should have because of being sick! It was really more than I ever expected, because the previous season was so difficult and I nearly wanted to quit. I loved to be back in World Cup after some years away from there. However, I felt immediately that I belong there when I saw the familiar faces. I have missed these biathlon scenes and friends!
- We are really in the shadow of Kaisa Mäkäräinen if we check the media and sponsorships in Finland. Otherwise if I still lived in Joensuu I wouldn’t see Kaisa that much during the training season, so I wouldn’t see any shadows. We have a couple of girls beyond Kaisa and Mari who are quite equally fighting for the two remaining places in the World Cup. So I need to progress more and be physically more fit so that I could ensure my starting place in the World Cup.
- It is and it isn´t better for me to race without that kind of pressure as on Kaisa. Of course everybody is expecting the results from her but it’s just about how you handle this pressure. For me it’s always a place for surprise but I give myself pressure too, so then I try too much and I fail sometimes just because of that.
- Finnish biathlon popularity is only and just based on Kaisa. When she once retires, we will be in the brink of devastation. Sponsors and media visibility will be around point zero, I think, but of course I hope it won’t be!
- My biggest success in life is my sporty lifestyle, including my biathlon career of course, with my family and boyfriend around, supporting me whatever I do and wherever I want to go! I have nearly completed my Master Studies in sports medicine among biathlon career and I will be ready for the future whatever it brings me!
- Motivation comes from deep inside of me, it’s pure joy of biathlon which makes me wake up and train every time. Bad weather is just excuse. You just need to wear right clothes! If I don’t have mood for training, it might mean I’m tired of training or getting sick so I will rest instead. If you train for yourself you will succeed. I know also that if I don’t feel like doing that I will retire and do some other enjoyable things.
- I study sports medicine and I like it, it was also my natural interest because I’m an athlete and because once I would be the expert on that field and help people and other athletes to be healthy and prevent their injuries in advance. That’s also an important part of my future life after biathlon.
- Doping is, unfortunately, still part of endurance sports when people want to gain more than what they would naturally reach. I still believe there is a clean sport, and testing is a natural part of it!
- I study also nutrition as a minor subject in the university so healthy food comes along with that. I like chicken-wok with nuts and spicy food. Above all I like to eat like an athlete should, but I still can eat dark chocolate or pizza in Italy! I cook a lot and nearly always, sometimes trying something new and I also bake if there would be just more eaters for my cakes!
- Now I work with my Master’s thesis in Sports medicine in my free time. So I wake up, eat a strong breakfast, write and read a lot of scientific reviews. I have lunch at the university, then a little break and maybe jogging or doing Pilates at the gym. Then I read or chill or hang around until I’m back in the bed.
- My favourite venue is Anterselva and Ridnaun. Both situated on the mountains and almost always sunny! Otherwise I would name Östersund, because I trained and lived there so it feels very familiar to me and it has special place in my heart.
- I like straights more than uphills because I have better technique there! I like prone more than standing postition, because I am more accurate there most of the time. I prefer being first in the start list not at the end, then I don’t need to wait and sit in the wax cabin and after my race, I can’t do anything more to the results, the others make it.
- I love summer! I enjoy sun and get so much positive energy of the sunny clear blue sky! I have been swimming in the lakes since I was 4 years old and after the long and exhausting winter season I am planning a holiday somewhere where is warm and a beach.
- In the winter I would like to have holidays in the mountains with snow and sun that I like. Maybe Italian or Austrian Alps, with snowboarding, massage and spa. The second option is a holiday on some exotic Island or something with beach and green nature around me! Of course good company included makes it perfect! In the summer I like to go to our summer cottage at the lake (Finland is really country of thousand lakes). It’s really beautiful there!
- Horrible race includes often bad skies, shooting mistakes or something like that. But it’s unnecessary to be wise afterwards. I will do the needed to recover physically and focus more on the next race! Every day is a new chance (except pursuit race of course). Unfair play and complaining are things I don’t like and get me pissed off. If I have a horrible race, good food and a friend to talk with can make me calm and happy again. And of course music and sun!
- Music has been around me since I was a little girl. I have played accordion and piano since I was seven years old, and I have been also competing successfully in accordion. I don’t train often with music but I sometimes listen to music before race days and races. I like every kind of music, from classic to electronic music! Armin van Buuren is one of my favourites!
- The morning before my race starts with jogging and waking up with music and listening my body feeling. Then I try to eat good breakfast even though I’m not good at it! Then depending on what time is the race I take dry shooting and then we travel to the stadium. Ski testing, zeroing, warm-up and race. That‘s how does it go.
- I don’t have any kind of funny story or experience in my career! I think we should ask Dasha (Darya Domracheva)! Funniest stories are often related to athlete’s parties or travelling among biathlon venues, but I think those stories should not be published!
- If I were just an ordinary biathlon fan I would cheer for Andi Birnbacher. He is great and sympathetic athlete and I like to talk German to him! Otherwise I would cheer for Mari and Ahti, two finnish biathletes who has gone a long way to reach that level! (Not mentioning Mari is good friend of mine and Ahti my brother). Benjamin Weger, Lisa Hauser, Dimitry Malyshko, Dorothea Wierer - all of those are really kind and honest!
|Laura with her teamates Kaisa Mäkäräinen and Mari Laukkanen after sprint in Oberhof 2011.|
- I cried a lot for biathlon, on the day of World Championship women relay here in Kontiolahti when I was told to go home and I was not allowed to start at my home World Championships. I was just reserve. I broke down.
- I want to be perfect and that can cause problems. Sometimes I also waste my energy on wrong people and issues.