Our Christmas gift: 24 answers you always wanted to know

This Christmas we asked 24 different athletes running with VJ Sport one question each. Read below 24 answers you always wanted to know.

1. Sara Hagström, Swedish orienteer: Your favorite substituting training?

My favorite substitute training is long distance xc skiing with my sister on a sunny day!



2. Olav Lundanes, norwegian orienteer: What is your biggest dream at the moment related to sports?

My biggest dream is to win both the middle, long and relay at the same WOC. I am getting closer, but there are still a lot of improvements that need to be done to achive it.

3. Anna Bachman, Swedish orienteer: How to get rid off being too nervous before competitions?

I try to think of what I can affect, like the technical performance and my worm up preparations. And not think about what I can’t affect on the competition day, like my physical shape or other conditions. If I do as good as I know I can do technically, it will be a very good race. That thought calms me down if I’m to nervous.


4. Saila Kinni, Finnish orienteer: Key to successful relay team?

It is relaxed, encouraging and joyful team spirit, where you can be as you are and orienteer as good as you can. There is no need to pretend a superhero!



5. Ida Bobach, Danish orienteer: Favorite orienteering terrain in the world and arguments for that?

The terrrains from WOC 2011 in France (middle final and relay). I felt so entertained when I was running in these terrains. The terrains were full of small features and that made the orienteering really difficult and fun.

6. Severi Kymäläinen, Finnish orienteer: What are the biggest differences between Suisse and Finnish orienteers?

The swiss are in general more laid-back, faster with the compass, and better in tolerating shitty terrains. However, they are yet to understand night-O and the misery a seemingly endless winter causes.

7. Florian Howald, Suisse orienteer: What are the biggest differences between Suisse and Finnish orienteers?

I think we Swiss orienteers in general are very structured, rational and well planned in training and orienteering. Sometimes I miss the trainings close to the limit, the spontaneous actions or the crazy stuff you can experience easily with Finnish orienteers, such as 3h-o-trainings, 4-session-days or camps where the last session is called ‘arkunnaula’ (last nail to the tomb). But I have had a lot of fun with both Swiss & Finnish orienteers and I think we are not too different after all: Also with my Swiss friends I can enjoy a good amount of Löyly in Sauna after a hard session.

8. Mikko Sirén, Finnish orienteer: How to react when you don’t achieve your goal?

Analyze your performance and take pros and cons from race. But remember to focus good things and do it like that next time!



9. Miika Kirmula, Finnish orienteer: Favourite orienteering training and arguments for that?

O-intervals in a small group, after each interval chasing start to the next interval.
Great training for handling the pressure in different kind of situations. Another benefit in group trainings that you’ll be pushing harder yourself.



10. Jonathan Albon, British/Norwegian all-round athlete: What is the most important skill needed on skyracing?

To be able to run on technical train. Without this skill it would be impossible to finish a skyraces within the time cutoffs, in addition to this the routes are often along exposed mountain passes where a slip or a trip can prove fatal.

11. Minna Kauppi, Finnish orienteer: Is there something you learned during your elit orienteering career that has helped you extra much now after your career in “normal” life?

I’ve always been active with my studies, own managering and other possibilities, which have helped me to create good skills and great contact network during my sports career.


12. Lucas Basset, French orienteer: Where to go for active holiday in France?

The best place is of course Font-Romeu in the Pyreenees, both for a training camp or for sports holidays. You’ll find everything there: snow in winter, great weather in the summer, awesome orienteering maps, beautiful hikes in the mountains, lakes to swin in or hot springs to bath in. Everything is over 2000m over the sea level, and if you’re lucky you can have a run with Mo Farah or Martin Fourcade who spend a good part of the year there!



13. Karin Karlsson, Swedish OCR-athlete: How to start OCR training?

Well, the sport OCR is basically moving your body forward, concurring obstacles on the way. If you’re about to run your first OCR, track down your strengths and weaknesses. Find a place where you can practice techniques on obstacles so you have tried it before the actual race, some techniques are really easy, you just need to practice it before the race.

14. Thierry Gueorgiou, French orienteer: One tip to improve orienteering technique?

Be honest with yourself and never go to bed without knowing what’s the true reason behind a mistake. Come back the next day and start fresh again!



15. Fredric Portin, Finnish orienteer: A lot of orienteers move to Halden – is it worth it?

It’s definately worth it, the number of orienteerers moving there every year is a evidence of that. Halden SK really want to focus on the training environment and those, who really highlight the training atmosphere there instead of going to training camps whole winter really enjoy Halden. The many events for the whole club, the high class orienteering trainings and the smile on everybody’s faces is what I will miss most from our time in Halden. I also understand why that many orienteering families settle down in the small city; it’s great to live in the Mecca for orienteerers, no matter on which level you are competing.

16. Elias Kuukka, Finnish orienteer: How to react when your little brother beats you?

Well… then he must have done really well;)



17. Anton Kuukka, Finnish orienteer: How does drawing maps improve your orienteering technique?

Mapping improves my map-reading skills and 3D-visualization. It also challenge my ability to concentrate.

18. Anton Johansson, Swedish orienteer: How to stay away from being injured?

The most important thing is to listen to your body. I know my body pretty well after experienced a few injuries the last years. I know when I should take it easier and when it’s just full speed in my training.

19. Annika Billstam, Swedish orienteer: To what pay attention on eating as a vegetarian athlete?

I’m always careful to refuel with protein which is often quoted as the nutrient that vegetarians won’t get enough of (e.g.egg. milk, cheese, eggs, beans, tofu) + food rich in iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and riboflavin. To be sure I meet my needs when I train hard I take supplements designed for vegetarians with these vitamins and minerals bought at the pharmacy.

20. Lotta Kirvesmies, Finnish orienteer: What can an orienteer learn from Australia?

I would say a lot, but for orienteering the courage to run fast enough is important as well as getting to know new terrains. In general Australians are way more laid-back than Finns and I wanna take home with me the “no worries”-attitude.



21. Jerker Lysell, Swedish orienteer: How to become mästarn?

Buy a cap and spend your days in a swimming pool.

22. Hannu Airila, Finnish orienteer: How to combine work and trainings on elit athlete level?

The key is to find a good balance between the training and work. I make calendar reservations for the important trainings to be sure they will be at the first priority. The main problem is to find enough recovery time. I put focus on good sleep at nights and 2-4 times a week I take a small nap on the afternoon.

23. Maja Alm, Danish orienteer: Where to find motivation?

Motivation is very important when you want to have an elite carrer. For it is important to have high but realistic goals that I’m training hard to reach. I find it very motivating to complete a very hard training periode and really puch my limit of what I think I can do. What is really important for me to keep my motivation over time is to have an off season periode, where I’m trying to all the things and see all the people that I don’t always have time to during the season.

24. Santa Claus: Will you bring me VJ Sport shoes this Christmas?

Ho-ho-hoo, that is a secret you will find out sooner or later! If you for some reason don’t get them, I have heard that nowadays they are even sold on some stores and not only produced on my huge Christmas gift factory. Can you imagine that?


Thierry shares his knowledge with Swedish national team

The king of the orienteering, frenchman Thierry Gueorgiou, informed one month ago that season 2017 will be his last at top level (http://www.vjsport.fi/fi/farewell-tour-2017/). Back then he didn’t yet tell the big audience what are his plans after that. However today 25.11. Swedish orienteering federation announced Thierry will be a new national team coach from 2018 on.

– This is a great opportunity and also a good way to start my new career, Thierry comments to VJ Sport.

– I am really looking forward to this and it felt like a natural step to take. I have been considering coaching as my next step for some time. It is my own father who first gave my inspiration to coaching as he used to work in French national team back in the days, Thierry tells on the release of Swedish national team.


Thierry will work as one of the coaches of Swedish national team starting next season 2018. At the moment he is still fully focusing on World Championships in Otepää Estonia next summer 2017. On national team Thierry will be focusing on orienteering technique and will for example plan the training programs for the training camps. Thierry lives currently in Sweden in Uppsala with his partner former elit orienteer Annika Billstam.

– My task is to take care that no one will train better than us, we will have the best quality in our trainings. I am happy to have Annika home to test my ideas with her, Thierry says.

Swedish orienteering federation calls Thierry as a “dream catch”. The current head coach Håkan Carlsson who will continue working with Thierry is already looking forward to season 2018.

Farewell tour 2017

After the World Championships this summer, I had no other goal than knowing what I really wanted for my near future. It is not always easy to stand at a crossing and not being sure about the direction to take, even for the most experienced orienteers. “Is it really the end? Was the WOC in Strömstad finally my last one, and the time to explore some new tracks coming? Or did I had still something left in the tank?”


I always heard that when a sport career is coming to an end, the sportsman could feel it coming, and one morning he wakes up and knows it is/was the last call. Thus, I decided to not rush by saying something I might have regretted later on, and let the decision comes to me. I felt quite empty after World Championships and I had anyway no competition to prepare.

But in fact, it was not a completely new situation for me, as I had already experienced this feeling of emptiness. Twice before, in my sport career, I felt I had lost the direction. The first time was back in 2007, after a perfect season (10 WOC/WCup starts – 10 wins). I knew I would never be as good as this, and it wasn´t that easy to continue. But luckily, the World Championships in France were around the corner, and became my driving force for the following years. The WOC 2011 was another climax, and, by far, the emotional peak of my career. I knew that nothing would taste the same again. But still, I was, somehow, always excited to know there will be a control, a leg, or a course, somewhere in a nice forest, which will be a big enough challenge to keep training hard.


The weeks after WOC were quickly filled with nice adventures here and there, and also different meetings to see a bit more clearly how could look my future outside elite orienteering. During that period, two small happenings pushed me toward one clear direction.

The first one was happening during my trip in the US, when I was attending AC/DC concert in New York. This band has always been in my playlist before the biggest competitions and for sure, it was a special moment to finally see them playing live. But seeing the lead guitarist and legendary Angus Young, 61 year´s old, in his schoolboy-uniform stage outfits, bounding and scampering and duckwalking all over the stage during the two-and-a-half-hour show, brought me a smile. He delivered riffs he has played thousands of times, and seemed to enjoy it as much as the fans. Highly inspiring.


But when I travelled back from the US, my thoughts were still quite unclear, with many unanswered questions. And surprisingly, it was during one of the smallest competition, here in Uppsala, that I found a big part of the answers I was looking for. I ran a middle distance in Hammarskogen, at the beginning of October, 10 kilometres from our home. It is definitively not the nicest piece of forest around here, and I wasn´t especially in good shape, but the joy of orienteering was maximal. Everything felt so right. I was just happy. And I had much difficulties to find an answer of this last question: “Why stopping something which brings you so much happiness?” And finally decided to let this one unanswered also for 2017.


On top of that, I also realized that it was not fair to leave the scene, when Hannu (Airila) has never been that close to beat me in a WOC race. I definitively wanted to give him another chance!

Of course, as an elite orienteer, your training should be goal-oriented at some point. And naturally, my main goal for the coming 8 months is the WOC in Estonia. The terrain is even a bit familiar as I was running a World Cup there in… 1998. Oh god, feel almost like yesterday! ; )


Saila chases medals, not Pokemons

For then years relationship some good co-operation, fun moments together and most importantly kept promises are needed. Finnish national team runner Saila Kinni has been running with VJ shoes for 10 years now providing us with happy and exciting moments. More of these moments are to come as World Orienteering Championships in Sweden are going to start tomorrow. Saila will be running both of her favourite distances in Strömstad:

– My goal was to be able to run both forest distances, middle and long. I’m confident with my shape at the moment and I am aiming high at woc, Saila smiles.


This Tampere-based young lady has good reason for her self-confidence at the moment. Trainings have gone exactly as planned.

– After selection races for woc we had a 10-day training camp in Strömstad. After that some recovery was needed and then I still had nice 2,5 weeks harder training period. I have been really enjoying these basic trainings as there has been enough time before woc to even train hard and be a little tired. For me I find my best shape through harder training periods and now this shape is about to be here!


Finnish Summer has shown its best this year and Saila has been happy to be able to run on shorts and t-shirts and enjoy the sunny days. These little things she calls the little joy of athlete’s life. When Saila is asked whether she has had time to do other summer things than training, the answer surprises not those who know Saila:

– I love to train so much, that most likely even without woc the highlights of the summer would have been long runs on tiny trails or tough orienteering trainings ending to a freshening swim in a lake. But yes, I have as well been playing minigolf, kayaking, staying on a summer cottage, picking berries and mushrooms, swimming and just enjoying the beauty of Finnish summer. To chase Pokemons I let the other to do even though it was fun to follow it, smiles Saila, who instead of Pokemons is going to chase medals in Strömstad.


Anna made her dream come true – and more is to come

Our latest Team VJ member Anna Bachman has been running with VJ shoes for long and really likes them. The great fact that Anna got selected to World Orienteering Championships in Sweden in Strömstad gave the cooperation new boost and now we at VJ can with pleasure follow this talent on her career.

– World Championships in Strömstad have been a dream aim for me for years. I thought that maybe they come few years too early comparing to my improvement, but now I am really happy I made it there, Anna smiles.


Before the selection races Anna herself knew she has good changes to make it to the team and as the races both long and middle went well, waiting for the call from Swedish coach Håkan Carlson was exciting.

– I was a little nervous for few days before Håkan called me. I couldn’t have decided myseld which distance, long or middle, I prefer. I got middle and now I am really happy with it.

Anna has a clear plan before woc. O-Ringen in Sälen was part of her harder training period with a lot of training hours. In August it is time for faster and tougher sessions to find the speed for Strömstad. Last week before the woc she is then going to rest and take it easy.

– Right now, in middle of harder training period, I feel a little tired but at woc in the end of August I will be on my top shape.

Woc 2016 is going to be Anna’s first world championships in adult level. First time brings some extra nervousness and Anna believes in future woc is going to be one way easier to prepare for.

– This year my goal is to do my best and especially technically not to do mistakes. Of course I would as well like to run the relay but so do all the others. In future I want to run more championships and win a World Championship medal one day, Anna tells her future goals.


This Stockholm based young lady is going to start working this autumn, but focus is going to stay in orienteering.

– I graduated this spring and now I got a job with 70 % working hours. I am really happy to find something relevant to my engineer education. Working will help economically but still there is time for training too.

Jerker aiming for gold

Few past years haven’t been easy for Swedish elitorienteer Jerker Lysell. Last summer he was injured, but can’t even remember what was the problem that time. However he managed to get to the Swedish World Champion team for Scotland and against all the odds results were great: 3rd place in sprint and nice performance in sprint relay too.

Jerker is yet best known as a sprinter but he is aiming for forest distances too. Unfortunately because of multiple problems, he ran out of time this year for getting into shape good enough before long and middle distance selection races. As well this season has been like rollercoaster; from an injury or flue to a new one. However Jerker managed to do it well enough on sprint selection race and is now traveling to World Championships in Strömstad in the end of the August.


Now Jerker says his shape feels OK again.

– I haven’t yet got far with my training, but it is going better and better all the time.

Recent results back up this argument. At O-Ringen in Sälen Jerker planned to run only the first long distance and then sprint, but because his performances in forest were nice, Swede was keen to continue the week. In the end Jerker ran the whole week and crossed the finish line as 2nd on last day after winner Thierry Gueorgiou. There is a huge potential in this guy, only some injury-free time is needed for training!

Jerker’s goal in woc is clear: to win the sprint.

– Last year it was a suprise that I got a medal. Now I am at better shape, but of course the marginal are always small. I would as well like to run the relay.

Untill now Jerker hasn’t notice the difference between woc at home in Sweden or woc abroad.

– Maybe closer we will get some greater media focus than usually. Of course it would be even cooler to win here in Sweden, but that is not something I am thinking about.

Jerker is studying in Norrköping but not with too much hurry. Focus is fully in orienteering now.

Starting from Halden 2019 are World Orienteering Championships going to be divided into forest distances every second year and sprint distances in those years between.

– I think that is going to be a nice new challenge.  To win a world champion in specific distance becomes a little more unique. I think for me this change is going to be optimal, I want to go all out for both championships. I’m looking forward to that!

Jerker is as well somewhat known from his spontaneous actions, often done together with brother Jesper. What kind of suprises can we wait next?

– No my focus is fully in woc, but we’ll see then. What we do we do spontaneously; it can’t be foreseen. Vi får se, smiles Jerker.

Jerker fanclub here at VJ Sport wishes Jerker good luck for Strömstad!


Team VJ goes JWOC: Tilda Johansson

Last but not least of our team VJ members in this year’s junior world orienteering championships is Tilda Johansson.

What’s up?
I’m fine thank you! At the moment I’m enjoying the adorable views of Swiss alps with my amazing team mates.

What are your feelings now before jwoc?
My feelings are all over the place I guess, a nice mixture of excitement and nervousness for my fourth and last jwoc.
Swiss terrains is not really what I’m used to, but I would say that’s the fun part with orienteering. After three weeks in Switzerland last summer I got acknowledged about what will be the challenges for me during the competitions. And know some month later I feel good prepared and ready to push my limits.


Your goals in Switzerland?
I will try to make five technically good races and enjoy every step of the way. Psychically I just gonna bring my best, when I’m standing on the starting line the shape is as it is and I know what I can do, so we will see how far it can take me. But one of my main goals is to make the Swedish coach, Mats Troeng, cry of happiness 😉

Goals for future?
I’m really looking forward to start my education at the University of Linköping this autumn. The university has a elite sports academy which I will join. I hope this can help me to improve my orienteering skills one more level.

Quick ones:
Sprint or forest
Strawberry or chocolate icecream
+ 5 degrees and rain or +35 degrees and sun
uphill or downhill
VJ Irock or VJ Bold

Team VJ goes JWOC: Simon Hector

Tomorrow starts the jwoc, what’s up our new team VJ member Simon?

I have just finished my high school studies, which were combined with an orienteering profile. Three years ago I moved to Sandviken to study at the orienteering high school there, but now it’s over and I have moved back to my family home in Huddinge in the south of Stockholm. My feelings after I have left Sandviken are mixed, it feels very good to finally be finished with my studies but it feels strange and a bit sad to know that I will never study at the high school in Sandviken again. I hope that I can learn to feel at home in Huddinge once again and that I can get structure in my life even if nothing is going to be the same anymore! This autumn I will rest from school and maybe work sporadically.


What are your feelings now before JWOC?

I had some knee problems during January and February and I had two weeks of sickness in the beginning of April so my form wasn’t the best in the beginning of this season. My aim during the spring has been to hold a high level in my training so that I could develop the strength that is needed to succeed in the Swiss mountains. My form has felt better every week from April until June, which feels really good! I think I have trained with good quality and I feel fit for fight!

Your goals in Switzerland?

My goal is to run five good races and follow my plan for every race. Most important for me will be to maintain focus during the whole race and to be as precise in my orienteering as I need. If I succeed in following my plan in the races, we’ll see what that leads to!

Goals for future?

In the future, I hope I will live my orienteering dream and be able to travel to many different countries and different maps. One of the best things with orienteering is to experience so many cool places, the Engadin where JWOC is this year is one of them! As most other people, I would like to do what I enjoy doing!

Quick ones: 

Sprint or forest
Strawberry or chocolate icecream
+ 5 degrees and rain or +35 degrees and sun
Uphill or downhill
VJ Irock or VJ Bold

Team VJ goes JWOC: Anton Kuukka

Junior world orienteering championships are soon here! The best young orienteers of the world will start their competition week in Switzerland in Engadin valley this Sunday. We asked how are our young team VJ talents doing. First Anton Kuukka from Finland.

What’s up Anton?

I’m fine, thanks. I was sick one day in last week and had to skip some hill trainings so the final preparation have not been the best possible. I am still quite confident about my shape because my winter training went so well.

Anton in last year’s Jwoc in Norway Photo: Porsgrunn OL

What are your feelings now before JWOC?

I was in Engading last autumn first time and there I noticed how amazing the terrains will be in JWOC. It wasn’t easy and I made quite much mistakes. Anyway I took it as a challenge and I really wanted to manage orienteering in those terrains this summer.

I was in the second training camp in Ticino and I was better but there was still a lot of room to improve. The 3rd time in Switzerland I was for the Finns test runs. There I got silver both middle and long and I felt that I am at last ready for the JWOC. Since then I’ve been looking forward to these competitions.

Your goals in Switzerland?

I aim for five good races with a full orienteering control. If I also physically manage to give my best then I am satisfied. I know with good runs top 6-positions are realistic in forest races. Anyway the competitions are so near that my full focus is only on orienteering technique and not anymore positions.

Goals for future?

My biggest goal is enjoy my orienteering life and I think that with pleasure of doing what I love will give the best result both in sport and in my personal life. When I was 10 year old Jani Lakanen won gold in WOC and then I thought that I wanna be also the Champion one day. I have not given up on this dream.

Quick ones:
Sprint or forest
Strawberry ice-cream or chocolate icecream
+ 5 degrees and rain or +35 degrees and sun
uphill or downhill
VJ Irock or VJ Bold

Life of Anton

European Championships in orienteering are about to start today. One of the young athletes doing their debut in senior championships is Swede Anton Johansson. We checked how Anton is doing.

How was world cup in Poland for you Anton?

The world cup competitions in Poland were my debut as a runner in the senior national team. Maybe those competitions weren’t my best races I’ve done, but I got some valuable experiences during those races. I will try to keep these experiences in mind when I’m going to the European Championships and hopefully make better races there.

Now it is time for European Championships. Did you expect being selected? How does it feel and what are your goals in Czech Republic?

Actually I got a bit surprised, the notice came like a bolt from he blue because I hadn’t expected to be selected. Now though, I’m really looking forward to new challenges and to make my debut, at a championship, in the senior national team. I can only focus on what I can affect and that is my preparations and what I’m doing during my races. I will do my best and then we will see how far it will take me.


 What is going to happen in the rest of summer?

I will be home in Jämjö preparing at Torhamnslandet and Blekinge for summers and autumns important competitions. Then we are having selection races for the World Championships in the beginning of June, then we’ll see how the summer will be. What I know so far is that I will enjoy running Oringen in Sälen. Later this autumn the Swedish championships will be in Blekinge, the small district in Sweden were I’m from, that will be completely awesome and I’m really looking forward to it.

You have quite a though year behind you with injury. How does it feel being back?

It feels good to be back again. After last years struggle, where I had to do a surgery because of two stress fractures in my foot, and after one year of rehabilitation of it, I’m now able to compete against the best runners.
During the winter I have been able to stay to my plan, stayed away from injuries and sickness, so I think that this season will be a fun.

How is it going in life otherwise?

I’m studying, part time, to become engineer in communication, transport and infrastructure in Norrköping. This spring there have been more orienteering than school, but I think I can manage to handle both in some way.

Good luck Anton!