March 2011

Name: Olli-Markus Taivainen

Country: Finland

Discipline: Ski and foot orienteering

Career highlights in ski orienteering: 2007 Junior World Champion in sprint, 2009 Junior World Champion in sprint, middle distance, long distance and relay, World Champion in middle distance

Career highlights in foot orienteering: 2009 Junior World Champion in middle distance

Olli-Markus Taivainen is one of the world’s best ski orienteers, and as the Athlete of the Month in March he has agreed to reveal us the secrets behind his success.

The number one secret seems to be – training.

I like to train a lot. My body recovers fast, and super compensation comes earlier to me than to others. That is my biggest and only very strong talent, Olli-Markus says.

In 2009, the then 20-year-old Finn won remarkably four out of four Junior World Championships gold medals in ski orienteering, and one in foot orienteering, and also gold, silver and bronze at the senior World Ski Orienteering Championships in Japan. Now he is heading for more medals at the World Ski Orienteering Championships in Sweden in March.

Bold goals and serious work to achieve them

In 2011 both ski and foot orienteering World Championships are my goal. I want at least one individual gold medal in ski orienteering. I will also become a world class foot orienteer and fight for the gold medals at the latest in the World Orienteering Championships in Vuokatti, Finland, in 2013, Olli-Markus says.

And he is working for his goal. The week after the World Cup finals in Switzerland he trained 50 hours in 7 days.
I trained three times per day, as usually, he comments, as if it was a normal week for any orienteer.

What are you thinking about during training sessions?

In case of easy long training: Whatever, like guitar riffs. When I do intervals in good shape I am thinking about how it feels when it is going so easy.

How much did you totally train last training year?

850 hours. It wasn’t more because of military service. I had for example eight military camps including a few nights in the forest.

What is the most extreme training you have done?

My brother and I ran trough Karhunkierros, a 80 kilometres long nature path in Eastern Lapland, after eating only two Twix chocolate bars just after a long distance competition.

How is it to wash so many training clothes?

Do I have to wash them every time??, Olli-Markus laughs.

Olli-Markus has a job in the military, and says that they support him with great possibilities for professional training.

How did you feel after the week of 50 hours of training?

–I felt strong. I had had a long period without basic training because of the competition seasons that included altogether more than 20 World Cup races from January to September. I needed a lot of easy training – that is the best way to clear my mind!

What are you doing in your spare time?

I spend it with my girlfriend. And if she is not with me, I spend the time by playing punk-rock music.

Next month mountain bike orienteering

Our next athlete of the month is Emily Benham from Great Britain. Emily is one of the best in the world in mountain bike orienteering.

We asked Olli-Markus what he would like to know about Emily.

“Why have you chosen mountain bike orienteering instead of foot orienteering?” Olli-Markus asked, and continued, with a twinkle in his eye: “In Finland people sometimes say that ski orienteering is for not successful foot orienteers, and mountain bike orienteering for not successful ski orienteers…”
You will hear Emily’s answer next month!

Olli-Markus Taivainen is striving for more gold medals this season.

Pass photo: Pirjo Valjanen, Ski orienteering photos: Erik Borg

Previous Athletes’ of the Month

February 2011 Olga Novikova (KAZ)

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