Kristjan Koll and the Winter Olympics 2022. The dream of an Estonian ski athlete.

Kristjan Koll is an ambitious Estonian skier.

His dream: to become a world champion!

We asked Kristjan to share his story with the reader. How Kristjan found his way to skiing, what has motivated him during his career, and where the athlete sees himself in the future. Enjoy!

Kristjan Koll

I took my first steps on skis when I was about 3-4 years old with my parents in the country in beautiful, fluffy snow. I remember more vividly when I went to school in Tallinn, and when it snowed in the winter after the World Cup broadcast (with comments from the legendary Lembitu Kuus), we went to the woods and put on our skis as well. In the first three classes, I went to the ski jumping and biathlon training, where I also got a little skiing, but since the primary training took place on a jump hill, I don’t consider it the beginning of so-called ski training. Main cross-country skiing still took place with my father in the woods on the weekends. When Andrus Värnik became a javelin throw world champion in Helsinki in the summer of 2005, as a young boy, I decided that I would also like to be a world champion one day. So the following autumn, I set foot in the Audentes athletics training, which I attended for a total of two years. Unfortunately, various knee problems overshadowed my athletics activities, and already in the spring of the second year, I started thinking about alternative training in my head. I remember noticing that my knees didn’t hurt when skiing in the woods in the winter, so I decided to go skiing relatively logically. At that time, I didn’t know that most ski training is done in the summer, and there was a lot of running. You could say that I found my way to skiing by accident.

At the same time, it was a lovely and fun time for me, because basically, I could train with friends every day after school, we spent all the school holidays in different camps and relatively often went to camps during school time.

The first year I felt pure fun from ski training and perhaps expecting a sixth grade boy to be able to imagine the next ten years and where he could end up was a bit too much. But already in the first winter season, the competitions were pretty successful – the coaches started to notice me more, and I have to admit I had my first thoughts and wish to be better next year. What followed was, in fact, a relatively logical development. Every year there were more camps and training, and the results of the competitions improved. When I started from about 10-15th place, I managed to reach the podium in the second year. At the same time, it was a lovely and fun time for me, because basically, I could train with friends every day after school, we spent all the school holidays in different camps and relatively often went to camps during school time. Jokingly, I can say that from the 7th grade onwards, I went to school less and less every year and set new records in absences.

Kristjan Koll 2020

My first weighty gold medal came at the age of 13 at the Estonian Youth Cross-Country Skiing Championships in the relay race, and from there, I also started to take myself more seriously on the track. The next big step, two years later, was when I achieved my first individual youth championship title, winning my main rival with a final sprint. I clearly remember that since this victory, I have never started with a smaller goal than victory (even if victory has been unlikely). There was a significant change in athletic ambition or goals a year later when I, to my surprise, qualified for the Nordic Youth Championships and managed to make really good races there, being in the Top 10. Since that season, I have been on the youth team (later also juniors, U23, and adults), and after that competition, I set my first international goals in this same competition in a year to win a medal.

Somewhere between the age 16-17, the idea of ​​winning the Olympics and becoming the best in the world stayed in my mind.

Unfortunately, I did not manage to win this medal. Still, from these first so-called title competitions, I started to set the goals of the season based on the title competitions of my age (initially Junior World Championships, then U23 World Championships, MK, etc.). Somewhere between the age 16-17, the idea of ​​winning the Olympics and becoming the best in the world stayed in my mind.

Unfortunately, not everything goes according to plan, and after the second year of the junior class (at the age of 20), I had a very poor season at the international level. More than a year had passed since graduating from high school, I did not go to university immediately, and there were not many supporters. However, I had an unwavering faith in myself and the desire to still succeed in the world of skiing, and I was sure that at some point, it would happen.

The next season, 2017/2018, was the most successful of my career, where I won a permanent place in the World Cup series (I drove out my best so far, the 38th place). I won several medals at the Estonian Championships, and only one man was between me and the Olympics.

Thanks to the support of my parents, I continued my activities as a so-called professional athlete. I had another year ahead without any distractions (school), and I was confident that I would succeed now. After a failed season, I found a new instructor and essentially rebuilt the entire training system from scratch. I finally saw the progress again, which gave me the strength and confidence to continue. I also realized that I have to adapt to the new training system and that one year is not enough. Fortunately for me, there was a breakthrough on the front line of supporters at that moment, and I managed to find a few people next to me who saw my will and wanted to give me a new opportunity. I also decided to go to university to give my brain activity. Thanks to a successful career in the youth class, EOK allowed me to start my studies part-time, and it wasn’t too difficult to combine training with learning.

Kristjan Koll
Estonian Championships, bronze, 2021

Today, I have made two good decisions during my career – the first was finding a new tutor at the age of 20, and the second was going to university. Uni gave my brain enough recreation from sports and allowed me to enjoy doing sports more. After this second decision, a career breakthrough took place. The following season I repeatedly reached the stages of the World Cup, qualified for the World Championships and teams, and won my first Estonian Estonian Championship medal in skiing. The next or 2017/2018 season was the most successful of my career, where I won a permanent place in the World Cup series (I drove out my best so far or 38th place). I won several medals at the Estonian Championships, and only one man was left between me and the Olympics. Although the goal and dream of OM weren’t reached that season, I met the new year more confidently than ever before, and the plan was obvious – to be the best Estonian skier in the 2018/2019 season and among the 30 in the world.

Unfortunately, like Murphies Law, when everything finally starts to go well, a spider flies somewhere in, and so it went. That autumn, before the season, I was in the best shape in my life and ready to win everyone when all my strength and energy suddenly disappeared from my body. It took several weeks to track down the mysterious disease, and it was not until November last year that we tracked down the most profound problem. Although I had the faith and desire to continue my successful career, in the 2018/2019 season, I was left with only a dim shadow. I constantly went to Estonian and Scandinavian doctors to find answers. In the spring of 2019, it seemed that suddenly everything was getting better now, but the autumn brought me back to the ground very painfully and dropped me into a bottomless hole. In December 2019, I succeeded in one competition, which injected hope and belief that not everything was over. It happens when an athlete gets excited and falls instead. Unfortunately, the following competitions did not finish in the same cheerful tones. At the beginning of 2020, the weather conditions were very bad all over Europe, and the competitions were gradually canceled. And then COVID19 arrived. When Covid came, the situation gave me time to think and discuss with my supporters. I decided to take a break to track down my health problems and see what the world would be.

When I got my health in order in the spring, I realized that I wanted to get to the Olympics this time and intended to fulfill my athletic ambitions despite all the difficulties behind. Indrek was the first I told about my idea. I am delighted that he and Primostar support my dream, and I am proud to wear the Primostar logo on me. What makes this cooperation very valuable to me is that I now have the opportunity to achieve the goal that I first talked about four years ago and that the values ​​of my main sponsor are the same as mine. Diligence, ambition, and pushing through are the keywords that I associate with Primostar, and I am honored to be supported by such a company. I sincerely thank Indrek and the entire Primostar team, thanks to whom an Estonian ski athlete can make his dream come true, and I will do my best to make sure that everyone has a reason to watch the broadcast of the Olympic Games in the winter.

Kristjan