Even after winning four consecutive overall FIS World Cup titles, Hannu Manninen (FIN) still does not have enough of Nordic Combined. In fact, he’s committed himself to yet another summer of hard training. And so far, it is looking good: â€œMy training has gone fine until now. We didn’t really change anything from the last couple of years,â€ he commented. â€œSome might have thought that I would quit after I won gold in Sapporo, or that at least it would be hard for me to get motivated for training. But, I can say it was not and I never thought about retiring after the medal. Quite to the contrary: my success in Japan has motivated me to train even harder and it was quite easy for me to get back into training after a short break in the spring.â€
Today, most people know that off-season Nordic Combined training is not just about hours on roller skis or sessions on the hill. But this year, Hannu Manninen along with the rest of the Finnish Nordic Combined team had a special new challenge. â€œThe World Masters Orienteering Championships were carried out in the area of Kuusamo when we held our training camp at Ruka. Our team ended up staging a promotional event during which we jumped once and had a 1.9km orienteering race. It was a really nice competition — truly something new,â€ Manninen explained enthusiastically. The event was a resounding success with the approximately 2000 spectators who came to cheer. Another highlight in the Finns’ training plan is the annual Jumping Carnival, which is held in Vuokatti in the beginning of August. â€œWe’ll have a training camp and a competition there together with the ski jumpers. After that, we athletes act as coaches for the little kids, who come to train at the Carnival. It is always a lot of fun and really motivating to see how committed those young ones are already at that early age and how serious they are taking the sport,â€ Manninen said. For all those who had hoped to see Hannu competing in the annual FIS Summer Grand Prix, it might be disappointing that he will not race. â€œI haven’t been on inline skates since 2004 and it would be too difficult for me to get into it again in order to be successful in the SGP. However, I will come to Klingenthal (GER) with the rest of the team to get some good training jumps on the new big hill there,â€ the tall 29-year-old explained.
Not only have the Finns had a break from the regular training schedule. The Austrian team went to Mallorca (SPA) for a 900-km cycling camp before returning home for a canoe trip. The natural reserve of GesÃ¤use provided a perfect setting for the expedition. The camp was rounded up by an introduction to the sport of â€œtrial racingâ€ in which the driver uses a motorbike without a saddle to overcome certain obstacles on the race course.
The Germans, then, went to Cyprus (GRE) for a week of cycling earlier on and will be traveling to Waiorau Snow Farm, New Zealand’s only Cross-Country Skiing area, just before the FIS Summer Grand Prix to get some snow under the skis again. Cycling seemed also to have been the training method of choice for the Norwegian team that went to Southern France for a week in May. The French are planning to go to the Ardeche region in France for some endurance training in September and the Swiss will have their annual Oberhof-Klingenthal training camp just before the FIS Summer Grand Prix which kicks off in exactly those two spots. Team Japan is training on home soil for most of the summer. Most teams have scheduled their first â€œrealâ€ snow camps in Scandinavia in November. And, after that, the World Cup Opening in Kuusamo is just a stone throw away.