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IV Skishow


It is not known what is the origin of the understanding that all organisers of ski competitions desire to have a good and catching relay race in their programmes. The arena of tensions and games of tactics, where – as seen many times – the team moving most uniformly rushes first across the finish line. Dramatic interpretations have been seen in relay races, and if somebody wishes hear the most charismatic comment to prove it, they may try to find and hear the feelings of Pekka Tiilikainen, the legendary commentator of the Finnish Radio, at the end of the relay race of the World Championships in 1954. The going along by the radio voice – groaning and at times swallowing tears – opens everything that the end of a relay race has to offer. Especially, when the leader in the finish corridor is the man from his own neighbourhood – this time the legendary Hakulinen.


Also the relay race of the 2004 Otepää World Cup had to add new colour to what had been before. Discussions began at once – What would be the composition and order of the Estonian relay four and whether our women would make a start at all. Around the relay competition there were intense speculations, although the day before was a dish as well – long classical distances with a mass start. And there were great-great expectations – whether Kristina, Andrus or Jaak –would the victory come to our homeland?


There was not a least doubt that with a mass start the tension would lap by lap. The hosts of the party – Andrus and Jaak (and of course also the hostess – Kristina as a sole woman) offered enough competition for the rest of the world. However, everything was decided on the last few metres that seemed so unimportant but yet so decisive. And how much we would not like to remind the good positions of our skiers in several middle points, it was Frode Estil, the old acquaintance and favourite of the Estonians, who occupied the place on the highest level of the awarding platform, Whereas the same was done by Claudia Künzel by winning the women’s competition scarcely.


Such domestic competitions involve extra tension and someone else’s victory gets particularly amplified here. This was the case at Otepää, however, less than a year before, in the March of 2003, Andrus Veerpalu acted similarly “in an undignified manner” – by punishing the Norwegians in their own most sacred place – Holmenkollen, in the royal 50-km of classical distance and before the eyes of their king. The achievement is on the same level with winning the Swedes in Vasaloppet and, why not, with beating the strong German skiers in their home – at the World Championships in Oberstdorf. On such occasions you can recognise that the home walls that echoed mightily collapsed with a sigh for a moment, to pull themselves together and offer fair recognition for the best of the day. Both Andrus and Kristina smiled at Otepää, although in the bottom of their hearts mixed feelings were boiling…


How about the relay race? Two Estonian men teams started, and a women team after several years! The appearance of the latter definitely made news. And during the opening stage our skiers surpassed themselves: Piret Pormeister, Aivar Rehemaa and Ilmar Udam – they all did well. A relay race, however, requires four good skiers. Among women, Silja Suija, who had returned to competition tracks, continued her brave struggle, but still we lacked strength to go along with the best of the world and, despite the role of Kristina as the anchor skier, we got the presumed place also in the finish list.


In the men’s track, the vigorous Veerpalu made up the nearly one-minute gap at the second leg and Jaak Mae was equal among the others, sending Priit Narusk to make his last attempt. This time we could not be on the pedestal but we did everything we could. The relay race, however, gave rise to a belief that one day we will not only be in the same finish corridor but struggle also for the win at the finish line. The women’s competition broke the ice, and now our women are training for the next winter with a firm and serious goal in their minds. Not only for the media.


What is still missing from the programme of the World Cup at Otepää? This is, of course, the fiery sprint that was cancelled! But this will also take place – already after a few weeks – when the fifth ski show is on its way and the year is 2005. And thank God – our hopes have also grown bigger meantime.


Author: Kaarel Zilmer

Photo: Scanpix

Web partner: BestIT
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