Sini Alusniemi (winner of women 50k skating 2019): I’m going to defend my victory this winter

The fourth and also the last winner interview of Jyväskylä Ski Marathon’s 50k distance races was conducted with women’s 50k skating race winner Sini Alusniemi. In case you have been thinking during your rush years how to be able to train almost professionally two different sports, work full-time, and also find time for family life, this interview with Sini is worth reading. 

These winners’ interviews  have revealed some interesting details: all the 50k winners from 2019 live in Jyväskylä and they all train very much! Home court advantage might also play a role? All of them are also thinking to participate in Jyväskylä Ski Marathon this winter! Maybe I also take advice from Sini’s preparation tips concerning sports nutrition and how to train the days before the race day, maybe you too?

Photo: Juha Kauppinen

Sini Alusniemi

Age: 38
Place of living: Jyväskylä
Club: Ikaalisten Urheilijat (skiing) and Jyväskylän Pyöräilyseura (mountain biking)
Work: Planner at Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences.
Coach: Self, quite a long time. It has worked well -it is easy to find who is Quilty if things do not work.

Has dominated Finland’s long-distance loppet races many years in skating style, among others has several victories of Finlandiahiihto 50k race in skating. 

Two Finland’s national championships in mountain biking in 2019, and 4th place in European championships in mountain biking in marathon in 2019. 

Sini Alusniemi lives in Jyväskylä. Sini is a familiar name and face to endurance sport audience. We know Sini from both skiing and mountain biking.

In skiing Sini has merits in addition to long-distance skating races also in shorter distances achieving TOP10 positions in Finland’s national championships. In skiing Sini mostly competes in skating style.
-Skating is by no doubt the better style for me, but I also  like classic style very much, especially when it is very cold and the track is like a railroad. I am going to Äkäslompolo (Lapland) during the independence day (6.12.) week for a training camp and there I  definitely like to ski also in classic style a lot. The waxing side is a problem for me in classic style as I have to do the grip waxing myself. Due to that I bought skin skis so I do not have to wax with klister grip waxes when it is warm condition.

The main goals for this season include of the long-distance races especially defendibng the victories at Finlandiahiihto and Jyväskylä Ski Marathon. In addition, skating races at Finland’s national championships interest Sini. 

Sini thinks that Jyväskylä Ski Marathon is a superb event and it is very nice to have such a big skiing event in Jyväskylä. 
Home races are always great when you do not have to travel. When you go elsewhere you usually need accommodation and on Friday evening you have to travel to the race location.  In addition, it is a please that in Jyväskylä Ski Marathonilla I can ski on my home tracks. Those tracks are my daily training tracks I could ski eyes closed.

Sini at the finish in Jyväskylä Ski Marathon 2019. Photo: Touho Häkkinen

Racing 50k in Ski Marathon in 2019 suit well in Sini’s plans and she had marked the event day well in advance in her calendar in November. 
-I usually plan my race calendar during my first snow training camp in November. I have first put long-distance races in my calendar and the national championship races that suit me. And after that and there is free in the calendar, I have added some smaller races. 

How did you prepare yourself to Jyväskylä Ski Marathon?
-I go to quite many long-distance races during the season and it takes some time to recover from the races. The most important thing between the races is to get the body to recover from the previous long-distance race. Last season I had a full time work to recover from the previous weekend’s Tervahiihto race (86k) (Sini finished 1st in Tervahiihto’s skating style women’s race).

Top 5 Women skating elite series Jyväskylä Ski Marathon. From left: 1. Sini Alusniemi (Ikaalisten Urheilijat), 2. Silja Tarvonen (Kangasniemen Kalske), 3. Sini Kantele (Jyväskylä), 4. Maria Mikkonen (Ski Jyväskylä), 5. Elisa Sihvola (Espoo). The third fastest time in women in 50k skating was the winner of Women 40 years series winner Jonna Kuronen (Lieksan Hiihtoseura). Photo: Touho Häkkinen

Sini has good memories of last season’s victory of the Ski Marathon, but also memories on the challenging skiing conditions: 
-The skiing conditions I remember well from last season and the year before that. Two year’s ago the track was quite soft after the heavy snowfall and last season due to the rain during the night before the race and then the cooling of the temperature, the track was very icy. It was challenging to skate on the icy track. 

-Otherwise the competition went well. I once fell down in an uphill. Quite good race, good feeling. When crossing the finish line I had power left. I skied most of the race with a few men. They also helped me a bit to keep up a good pace, but I also skied in the front of our group. 

At what stage did you believe you could win?
-quite at the beginning. I started victory in my mind and my goal was to get to the front of women.

Photo: Juha Kauppinen

Let’s talk a bit more about skiing and Jyväskylä Ski Marathon.

What kind of training tips would you have for skiers preparing for Jyväskylä Ski Marathon?
-The timing of Jyväskylä Ski Marathon in March is excellent as skiers have time to collect some skiing kilometres before the event. As the main training I recommend to ski during weekends a long training in low tempo. Additionally,  depending on the level of the skier, I recommend doing interval training to develop the oxygen uptake.  It is recommended to do the longer trainings in good skiing conditions as the trainings then also help to develop skiing technique, and also the easiness of skiing. When the technique gets better it makes skiing more ec0nomical and you save energy when you are doing technically the right things.

Let’s then talk a bit about your training in general, mountain biking and your normal week. 

How has your training been during summer and autumn?
-during the last years I have done more and more mountain biking and running competitions have been scarce.

-The last summer season in mountain biking was very good for me, I got success also from international races as I finished 4th in European Championships in marathon. In addition I won two Finland’s national championships (XCO and marathon).

Sini says that mountain biking during the summer supports well her preparation for the skiing season, especially for the long-distance skiing races. On the other hand, Sini has noticed that mountain biking has affected her skiing speed in shorter distances  (5-10k), especially when getting older and you naturally get slower. 

Sini’s normal training week is constructed often around competitions: –Now during the autumn I have some time to take a break from the competitions after the long mountain biking season (April-October) before the skiing season starts. I begin my skiing season in terms of competitions later than most others. During the year. I do not have many weekends without competitions. 

Photo: Juha Kauppinen

How many training hours do you do yearly? 
-I have not counted hours anymore during the last years. Very much I think as in mountain biking you get easily 20hrs per week. Currently I do a bit less, around 12hrs as I have now skied a lot in Laajavuori’s first snow track.

How to combine full-time work and family life with almost professional sports training? 

-family works as a team. Naturally you have to plan very carefully beforehand what you are doing. I always try to plan what I’m doing on the next day and usually I plan 2-3 days beforehand. Nowadays I train right after the work day. I often do trainings when I go to work and get back from work (Sini bikes or runs to work around the year). Now I have biked from work directly to the first snow track in Laajavuori to make skiing training. 

-During the weekdays I do my trainings before 7pm and I have noticed that I sleep better when I do not train too late.

Photo: Juha Kauppinen

We must also ask Sini about preparation tips for long-distance races. 

Do you do any special trainings when you prepare for long-distance race? 
-in the winter if there are long-distance races during the following weekends I typically concentrate on recovering between the races, some slow jogging during some days and two easy skiing trainings. I train considerably less in the competition season.

Do you fuel up for long-distance races?
-not really. I do not drink sports nutrition. I do it only if there is going to be a very warm day in the race. Then I drink sports drinks the day before the race. I just try to eat and drink enough.   In terms of getting enough energy it is important to get energy during the race. In races I take sports drink and energy gels. 

Photo: Juha Kauppinen

What do you do the last two days before a long-distance race?

-I have tried many different things. I have noticed that many different preparations suit me. The only thing is not to train too much the day before the race. Many times the day before the race I have done an easy and short (30min) jogging including short intervals. On the other hand, if there is a race on Saturday, on Thursday I have trained very easily, and tried then on Friday to do around 1.1.5hrs skiing or biking training. Then it feels that in my body there is a better feeling than after just resting.  Full rest before the race day is probably the worst for me. 

How do you spend your time while not at work or training? 
-I like to go to the nature, and going out to the forest and hiking is what my family likes to do. We go together hiking and camping. For example, on yesterday evening, we all went out for a walk in the dark forest with head lamps. 

Final question! What kind of greetings do you have for the Jyväskylä Ski Marathon race organization?

-Arrangements were great; good race center at Vaajakoski and great finish place at Peurunka Spa Hotel where was also niceevent related additional offerings such as dining and after ski evening program. Also the bus transportations and all those kind of things worked well. I have no negative feedback to mention.

-and the drinks supply during the race was something extraordinary as the skiers were offered drinks in their  hands. And there were enough service stations on the track. 

A special thanks to Sini for the interview and we wish you warmly welcome to the next year’s Jyväskylä Ski Marathon event!

Text: Heikki Karjaluoto / Jyväskylä Ski Marathon

By enrolling by December 31, 2019, you will receive the following benefits:

-The cheapest payment step is valid until December 31, 2019

-You will receive a free SWIX V40 grip wax (given in participant bag)

-You are involved in SWIX and SALOMON prize draws including one pair of SWIX Quantum poles and one pair of SALOMON Skin skis. Prizes are drawn among all who have registered by December 31, 2019.