Welcome to FasterSkier’s World Cup Preview, where we check in with the top-10 teams from last year’s FIS Cross Country World Cup tour before the season starts with the Ruka weekend in Kuusamo, Finland, on Nov. 24 with a classic sprint.
Overall in Nations Cup Last Year:4th
Women’s Ranking 2017/2018: 4th
Men’s Ranking 2017/2018: 7th
Finnish Skiers to Watch:
If there are two names Finland’s cross-country ski fans loves to cheer–and will be looking to chant again this season–it’s Krista Pärmäkoski and Iivo Niskanen. And with good reason.
Pärmäkoski opened Period II of last season with a win, cruising to first in the 10-kilometer classic race in Planica, Slovenia. Pärmäkoski racked up two more 10 k victories after Planica, winning both the Lahti 10 k and the Falun 10 k. Altogether, Pärmäkoski landed on the World Cup podium seven times last season, capping off the FIS 2017/2018 season ranked fourth, just ahead of Norway’s Marit Bjørgen in fifth.
Outside of the World Cup, Pärmäkoski also came away from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games with three individual medals, one silver and two bronze.
Complimenting Pärmäkoski on the men’s side, Niskanen, earned two World Cup podiums last season, placing third in the Ruka 15 k and third in the Lahti 15 k. He landed in the top-20 twelve times during last year’s World Cup season, and finished 15th in the FIS overall.
Like Pärmäkoski, he also departed the Winter Games with hardware, a gold medal from the men’s 50 k mass start.
Pärmäkoski and Niskanen aren’t the only Finns capable of pushing into the top tiers of World Cup skiers. With the retirement of Aino-Kaisa Saarinen this past spring, the women’s side will look to Kerttu Niskanen (Iivo’s sister), Riitta-Liisa Roponen, Anne Kyllönen and Laura Mononen–all of whom scored World Cup points more than once last season– to keep the women’s team’s forward momentum.
Following Niskanen, Matti Heikkinen and Ristomatti Hakola are two veteran Finnish names who are not about to let up as the 2018/2019 season prepares to get underway.