By Teemu Virtanen
Vltava Fund Team comes from the Czech Republic, but it could be described as a Czech-Finnish Pro Team since there are five athletes from the land of sauna, Sibelius and sisu (guts). Two of the best Finnish long distance skiers, Heli Heiskanen and Ari Luusua, are the shining stars of the team and solid point collectors. Noora Kivikko, Isac Holmström and Lauri Kivistö, who will join later, are the remaining three skiers and they all can score valuable points for the team.
Heiskanen finished 7th in the Hertz Champion competition after last season while Luusua became the first Finn to be on the podium at Jizerska 50 (3rd). Of the Czech Pro Skiers, Jiří Ročárek had several top 40 places, 20th place at Jizerska 50 as his best result, Pavel Ondrášek managed to get two top 40 positions, and Fabián Štoček is a potential top 20 skier as he finished 18th at Jizerska 50 and 6th at Vasaloppet China last season. Andrea Klementová can push herself into the top 20 while Adela Boudikova is going to skip this season as she is with child – due in March. Adela and Jiří Ročárek already have a daughter, Elisabeth.
“My training has gone well,” Heli Heiskanen says and sounds like she is ready for the anniversary season. “Naturally, I feel a bit tired every once in a while due to my training load. But I think I have been able to improve on a lot of things. I’m really excited about the new season, and I’m happy that we have so many Finnish skiers in our team. I know everybody from the past, which makes things much easier. Ari and I will do every race, and the rest of the gang will do selected ones. I think we have a much stronger team now and we are aiming for some podium places as well.”