Athlete of the Month – November 2013

EM skiorientering Torsdag 14. februar 2013 Madona i Latvia

Name: Tatiana Rvacheva (née Kozlova)

Country: Russia

Discipline: Ski orienteering

Career highlights: Medals: 2 World Championship (WOC) gold, 3 WOC silver, 2 WOC bronze, 4 European Championship (EOC) gold, 1 EOC silver, 1 EOC bronze, 5 gold in Junior World Championships (JWOC) in SkiO, plus gold in JWOC foot orienteering relay in 2006.

Top place on the podium was a familiar position for Tatiana Kozlova last winter. Now the Russian is planning for new challenges this coming winter – and her name has changed too.

Tatiana, soon 27 years old, lives in Moscow and likes it there. She much prefers the daytime: “We live on a high floor in Moscow and we can enjoy the beautiful Moscow night view if the weather is good, but I don’t like classic night life and night parties. I like the mornings more, when you can start your day early to do some work about home, have breakfast and after that do the perfect training session. If the morning starts in this way, I can say that the second part of the day will also be good. And in the evening I am usually then calmer”, she says.             

A successful winter

Last winter Tatiana won two individual gold medals and a relay gold at EOC in Latvia, and won the relay and took silver, silver and bronze individual medals at WOC in Kazakhstan. “Last winter was the best of my career so far. I had a lot of good races, and felt during almost all the competitions that I could be in the top three in the results. It was an incredible feeling”, Tatiana says.

She didn’t at all expect three gold medals at EOC, held at Madona in Latvia. Her main goal was the World Championships, and she had not tried to be in her best form at EOC. “But in Latvia I had such good skis. It was my first winter with Peltonen. My coach found a very suitable wax for the weather and I had a perfect pair of skis for that snow. Therefore I could compensate for my mistakes with my good skis and maybe also with the physical conditions at EOC”.

EM skiorientering Torsdag 14. februar 2013 Madona i Latvia
Tatiana Rvacheva had a great European Championships in Latvia last winter. She won the Long distance ahead of the Swedes Josefine Engström and Tove Alexandersson. Photo: Erik Borg

She did well in Kazakhstan too. Of course she had aimed for an individual gold, but podiums in each individual race and a relay gold was also a perfect outcome. And the silver in the Long race felt like it was a gold. “I made a huge mistake at the end of the first loop. It was a three-minute mistake and felt too big for a WOC race. I thought then that nobody would believe that I could finish at the top. But I decided not to give up and tried to do my very best. I will never forget the last part of the race. I was fighting with two of the best Swedish orienteers, Tove Alexandersson and Josefine Engström – both strong, fast and competitive skiers. We were all very tired and there were only two medals left for us, bronze and silver. So it was a very hard finish loop. The silver was my best prize from the WOC. Also I was so happy for Mervi Pesu who took gold on that day. She is the best advert for a healthy life style, her love for our sport and her diligence. All her family should be very proud of her big achievement”.

A memorable autumn

Last winter had a lot of big occasions, but this autumn has also been very special. On September 28th she got married to Nikita Rvachev. “It was all very touching and sweet. We enjoyed our day and I hope our 80 guests did too”, says Tatiana, who has now changed her surname from Kozlova to Rvacheva.

Tatiana and Nikita had been together for four years before their marriage. Their first meeting was at university where they were both studying in the Information Technology faculty. Nikita does not orienteer but he likes other sports including volleyball, snowboard and running. His work is in internet advertising. “They are trying to find ways to make adverts more efficiently”, says Tatiana.

First winter at all World Cup races

In the coming winter Tatiana hopes to take part in all the World Cup races. If she does that it will be the first season ever for her. “It will be very difficult to repeat or improve on my results from last winter. So the best way for me is to forget about everything and just do things in my favourite way”.

– Have you made any changes to your training?

“Before last winter I started to do a lot of strength training in the gym. And it brought results. This year I will go further with the strength exercises. Since I have now moved from my small home town outside Moscow into Moscow city, I will have to do more running training instead of skiing during winter time. There are no good ski tracks nearby. I’m not sure that these changes will lead to improved results, but these are the conditions I have and I will do my best”.

Tatiana Rvacheva has been among the world’s best seniors since 2007. Photo: Erik Borg

Thankful to her brother

Her brother Sergei Kazakov introduced Tatiana to orienteering lessons in autumn 1995. “I was eight years old and I didn’t want to go because I had a lot of other lessons. But he persuaded me that it would be fun. And he didn’t lie. Sergei stopped orienteering a long time ago, but I’m still here with big thanks to him. We remember his role in my life”.

In her youth she soon showed a big talent in both orienteering and ski orienteering. In ski orienteering she has five JWOC gold medals. In 2006 she was in the winning relay team in the footO JWOC. She is still doing the summer variant, but not as much as she would like. “I should do more, maybe it could help me avoid some mistakes in the winter”, she says.

Four coaches

Tatiana is a full-time ski orienteer and has four coaches. “Each of them helps me a lot. My main and most senior coach is Stanislav Zolotarev. He has been with me since 1995. We are still together at all the competitions and he is my personal wax-man. Then there are Anatoliy Namov and Alevtina Naumova – they are professional runners. They help me with training programmes, and Alevtina runs with me as a sparring partner. And the fourth is Leonid Vorona; he is a professional weightlifter and helps me with my strength training. I have a very good team”.

The newly married couple prefer to train at home and go on short training camps, maximum ten days long. “I don’t like to leave home for any length of time if possible. Usually I do camps in Finland with my orienteering coach and sometimes with some of his students. We are used to doing common training camps with the Russian team only before the season in November and before the World or European Championships”.

Likes the big authors

– What do you like to do when you are not ski orienteering?

“I like reading, making scrap books and hand-made presentation cards, and cooking. This last hobby started only when we moved to the new flat, and I really enjoy it”.

– What kind of books do you like to read?

 “I like classic Russian literature. Tolstoy, Dostoyevskiy, Pushkin. I read them a lot when I was a pupil and I’m reading them now again because I’m finding something new and interesting for myself. I didn’t like history at school because I couldn’t remember all the events and dates. When I had finished university, and more time appeared for my interests away from technical literature, I found an author who writes about history in a very interesting style. So I have read many historical books about Russia in the different periods. I’m sure that we should learn as much as we can about our very strong and interesting country because it is our roots. During the last year I have also read several books about Asian countries”.

No end in sight

– How long are you thinking of staying at top level?

“I enjoy every year at top level. If I have the possibility to be better than earlier, I will be motivated”.

 – How is it that you are doing so well?

 “Actually I don’t know the exact answer. When I am well prepared for the competitions, I feel very self-confident. That helps me to relax, from one angle, and from another angle to concentrate on orienteering well. I think we can include that in the mental part of my preparation. My physical condition is quite good because of doing a lot of running training. I do many training sessions with my sparring partner Alevtina Naumova, who was a high-level marathon runner. Now she has finished her career but she still helps me, especially in spring and summer. It is the best way to keep up the level of my functional endurance. So when I add the power to my muscles with the exercises with rods I will be ready for effective cross-country skiing training. I don’t have any technical secrets. I think we do the same exercises as all the orienteers: reading the map even during the simple running and skiing training and doing exercises for memory. But you can realise your technical potential only if you are in good physical shape”.

VM stafett i skiorientering Härjedalen i Sverige Søndag 27. mars 2011 alena trapeznikova tatiana kozlova polina malchikova
Tatiana Rvacheva (in the centre) has twice won WOC gold in relay. Here she is together with her team-mates Alena Trapeznikova (left) and Polina Malchikova at WOC in 2011. Photo: Erik Borg

 Athletes’ questions

Mårten Boström, athlete of October has two questions: How many technical ski orienteering trainings apart from races do you do per year, and what kind of trainings?

“We do many ski orienteering training sessions from November onwards. Amongst other things we do training for route choice during ‘calm skiing’, and special training for the memory when I run without a map and only at the control point can I see the piece of map with the distance to the next point. At home I look at maps of old competitions; I used to run footO competitions during the summer”.

The Athlete of December will be the mountain bike orienteer Olga Vinogradova. Tatiana has these questions for her:  “Olga, congratulations on your success in the last part of the season. I know that you have a particular hobby – photography. Do you have any special favourite photos that you have taken? What are they about – sporting moments, you or your sister or about ordinary life?


Text and photos: Erik Borg


Previous Athletes of the Month


January 2013 Staffan Tunis (FIN)
February 2013 Jerker Lysell (SWE)
March 2013 Stanimir Belomazhev (BUL)
April 2013 Davide Machado (POR)
May 2013 Evaldas Butrimas (LTU)
June 2013 Minna Kauppi (FIN)
July 2013 Oleksandr Kratov (UKR)
August 2013 Cecilia Thomasson (SWE)
September 2013 Jana Kostova (CZE)
October 2013 Mårten Boström (FIN)


January 2012 Alison Crocker (USA)
February 2012 Morihiro Horie (JPN)
March 2012 Polina Malchikova (RUS)
April 2012 Ionut Zinca (ROU)
May 2012 Tobias Breitschädel (AUT)
June 2012 Ivo Tišljar (CRO)
July 2012 Matthias Kyburz (SUI)
August 2012 Marika Hara (FIN)
September 2012 Lizzie Ingham (NZL)
October 2012 Tonis Erm (EST)
November 2012 Marit Wiksell (SWE)
December 2012 Tatiana Ryabkina (RUS)


February 2011 Olga Novikova (KAZ)
March 2011 Olli-Markus Taivainen (FIN)
April 2011 Emily Benham (GBR)
May 2011 Søren Saxtorph (DEN)
June 2011 Tove Alexandersson (SWE)
July 2011 Olav Lundanes (NOR)
August 2011 Thierry Gueorgiou (FRA)
September 2011 Erik Skovgaard Knudsen (DEN)
October 2011 Lauri Kontkanen (FIN)
November 2011 Annika Billstam (SWE)
December 2011 Anna Füzy (HUN)


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