Riitta-Liisa Roponen still finds it difficult to put the World Championships in Oberstdorf into words.
The skier tries to describe his feelings and what it means to him to return to the top - but comes face to face with its impossibility time and time again.
Even less would collide.
Roponen went to the fourteenth championships of his career as a kind of emergency reserve option, even as a disgraced one, but returned to Finland as a message medalist and a celebrated hero.
- I just have a better mind all the time.
Now I'm able to nostalgic Performance For small groups with friends and noticed how a big thing, it has been both them and me.
On the jogging path, people also shout congratulations, Roponen sighs to IS.
The 42-year-old veteran slapped the flour in the mouth of his suspects even before the joy of the message in the free ten race.
Roponen cannoned his bravura trip to tenth, remaining only 37 seconds from the medal.
Riitta-Liisa Roponen surprised everyone - even herself - with the World Cup free ten.
He was the best Finn. Photo: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva
It was the second best personal quote for Finnish skiers at the competition.
The performance was thus the responsibility of a woman who had already once had time to “finish” her career and dream of values.
- On that day, so much of that burden of failure was dropped - and at the same time an incredible amount of joy of success was unleashed.
I had such a long time since my previous World Cup success.
- My self-confidence still rose a bit and I realized that yes I still have this part!
Improved self-confidence was harnessed as a medal two days later in the post.
In the third leg, Roponen banged an iron-strong viton, and sent anchor Krista Pärmäkoski on a trip right in front of the medal.
Bronze quartet Jasmi Joensuu (left), Johanna Matintalo, Riitta-Liisa Roponen and Krista Pärmäkoski, who made the women's sensational surprise. Photo: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva
Pärmäkoski fought, hung, struck and roared at the finish line with primitive bronze joy.
- It feels like an insanely won medal.
No one expected anything from us.
And it touched the whole team: Those who couldn’t ski were encouraged to the fullest.
It really hasn't always been like that ... that there's such a good spirit, Roponen ponders his ninth World Cup medal.
- Even though I came to the team as an outsider, I never had an outsider.
Everyone, just about everyone, was willing to help and took me into the stuff.
Roponen’s return to the top of the world is amazing in many ways.
He struggled to become a medalist from outside the national team and after a major back operation.
In his forties.
Riitta-Liisa Roponen and the Ibra dog, which is very comfortable in Finland.
Denver's mountain air froze Ibra's jogging adventure. Photo: Ville Honkonen
There is a lot of old and something new behind the level.
One of the most significant factors is that Roponen lived and trained last month in a high atmosphere in the Rocky Mountains of the United States.
Roponen's husband-coach Toni worked as a ski coach at the University of Denver, but is now becoming the rector of Tanhuvaara Sports College.
- It must have had an effect when I trained at over 1,650 meters really well all last spring.
In addition, I dropped quite a bit of muscle mass and weight in the legs to get more out of the body on the slopes.
I trained a lot of aerobics.
According to the old wisdom, basic fitness training - especially in high weather - slows down and stiffens.
- And not slow.
I’ve never been very explosive, and in a race of ten, speed has nothing to do with the end result.
At least it worked for me.
Roponen has got a tenacious suffix to his name this season, 42. Age has been the dominant narrative for him - both good and bad.
The ski community was worriedly affectionately collectively when Roponen won ten free Finnish Championship gold in February before 38-year-old pensioner Kaisa Mäkäräinen.
There were some appropriate concerns about the state of women's skiing as well, when the biathlete who finished his career and the skier at the end of his career humiliated his younger ones.
Riitta-Liisa Roponen glows with happiness after the peak season. Photo: Ville Honkonen
Roponen shrugs his shoulders at age-related speeches.
- Even after the Finnish Championship gold, I thought that my choice for the World Championships would once again evoke talk, but I knew I had earned my place.
If my level of performance is not chosen for the competition, then not very many athletes will be selected there.
He eventually managed to turn the roar and mockery of his age into a resource.
What else would be lost?
- On the morning of the World Cup ten, Toni said for the last time that he was just going to enjoy the race.
After that, I no longer thought about that joke I'm old and if I'm in the wrong place.
I just focused on enjoying, and it worked pretty well.
Roponen's age-related horror was not limited to Finland's borders.
Swedish broadcaster SVT called Ropoo “42 years old, which gives hope to the elderly”.
Norwegian superstar Heidi Weng, meanwhile, had to answer to reporters what it felt like to lose to an athlete in her forties.
- I heard about Heidi's story ... the old man lost.
Whatever it does, quite a few others there lost to the elderly.
But to me, it’s exactly one and the same thing people say about my age.
I don’t feel like I’m old myself - everything else, a skier who turns 43 in May, announces and laughs happily afterwards.
Norway's Heidi Weng.Picture: Odd Andersen
The success of the World Cup is a life hole for Ropone and a reward for hard work, but it was no financial jackpot.
He earned € 2,065 in prize money from the World Cup and not a penny from the World Cup.
The sponsorship situation is no dual.
According to Roponen, he and Toni have paid 95 percent of the camp costs this season from their own savings.
Roponen clarifies that he still receives top-class equipment from his partner.
However, the money taps have almost completely disappeared
- I currently have only one sponsor who provides financial support, when until a couple of years ago the partners made my camp almost entirely possible.
There hasn't been a terrible sewing job.
A smaller budget is a headache, even though the equation worked more smoothly than expected in the past period.
- I didn't have to compromise terribly.
I'm just Camps in Finland and especially in Levi, where we have our own cottage.
On the other hand, the national team camped mainly in Vuokatti during the corona year, which means that I have not been in worse places, at least.
The Ibra dog is Roponen's jogging partner. Photo: Ville Honkonen
The life of the Roponen family has been revolutionized during the corona pandemic.
Husband-coach Toni has lived in the United States, and Riitta-Liisa with her couple's daughter Ida in Haukiputaa.
Riitta-Liisa and Ida were in Denver for more than six months and returned to Finland with Toni last May.
The summer went to the North, but Toni packed his bags again in the fall and headed back behind the ocean.
Riitta-Liisa has only seen her husband once since then, in December.
The distance of thousands of kilometers and the time difference of nine hours has been a difficult place for a person living with emotion, even though it got used to it over time.
- I took Toni's first departure really hard.
All responsibility and daily chores fell on my account.
We did really well with Ida, but I was so tired.
Many times I just woke up early in the morning, doing workouts and other mandatory chores.
The rest of the time I slept and wept over my fatigue.
Roponen says that he already knew how to treat other goodbyes on Christmas Day.
Thanks to the experiences of the fall, she knew she could cope with reconciling motherhood, training, and daily routines with more or less intact skin.
Close ones and friends also helped.
- Fortunately, our lives have been really reduced, which has helped.
But yes, for example, we sang that our yard has shrunk terribly a lot when the snow just came and came, and we weren’t always bumping into everything.
We didn’t stretch everything.
The awkwardness of communication also brought its own spice to practice.
Roponen says that he felt insecure when he had to prepare for the season and the World Championships, mainly by training alone.
Tip if the other one was in place.
- I missed the coach especially for the technical trainings to watch and comment.
After all, this has been different, but now it went like this - and it worked out just fine.
Fortunately, the situation will ease soon.
Riitta-Liisa Roponen gets home both her coach and her husband, in the same package.
- Toni is already involved in the Finnish Championships, Roponen says, referring to the Ristijärvi Finnish Championships to be held this weekend.
Riitta-Liisa Roponen in her domestic landscapes in Haukiputaa. Photo: Ville Honkonen
After his success at the World Cup, Roponen decided to continue his career with another year's Beijing Olympics.
He plans to practice for the coming season by detecting with his system outside the national team circle.
The Beijing Games are no longer just a bonus, as is Oberstdorf.
Roponen prepares for the final season of his career without pressure and anxiety;
enjoying their beloved profession.
That's what he deserved.
- I want to watch another year.
I have had a message and anyway so much to give, so why not give it a try.
Roponen in his jogging terrain near his home. Photo: Ville Honkonen