Andrey Lamov is one of the biggest names in Ski Orienteering of all times. To his enormous experience, the Russian adds an unquestionable talent, reasons why he's currently the nº 2 in the IOF World Ranking. After uneven performances in the World Cup 2015/2016's first round, Lamov already projects the next weekend's competition, taking the opportunity to talk about himself, his career, opponents and ambitions for the future. And leaves us with a wish, both original and practical.
The first question is always the easiest: Who is Andrey Lamov?
Andrey Lamov (A. L.) - I was born 29 years ago, in a place called Cherepovets, in the Northwest part of Russia. I graduated at Vologda Pedagogical University, in 2009, in Physical Education. My mother worked in a Sport School as Orienteering coach so I tried Orienteering pretty early. I always liked sports and started competing at the age of 8.
SkiOrienteering is your discipline since the beginning or we're talking about an “upgrade” from XC Skiing or Foot orienteering?
A. L. - First I did mostly Orienteering and a little Skiing. Later, at the age of 11 or 12, I've tried Ski orienteering and I liked that. Since I had already been quite good at Skiing I had success in youth classes. I'm still in love with Orienteering and Skiing and I try to compete in both as much as I can.
What are your most valuable skills, those who turn you into the current nº 2 in the World SkiO Ranking? What skills would you like to have that you still haven't?
A. L. - I always liked Orienteering but in Ski orienteering I found much more action and that's why I decided to concentrate myself on it. I've been working a lot on my weak sides and I want to get it perfect on every race, I don't really like to lose. That is maybe what helped me to rise my skills up. During the last years I reached a good stable level which makes me believe that I trained right. Now I'm able to be on top three in any World Cup race. One thing that I'm still missing is a gold medal on WSOC. This is my biggest goal for now. Next ESOC is also important and I'm looking forward to have fun in sunny Austria.
What is your best memory ever in Ski orienteering? And the worst of all your experiences?
A. L. - Winning the Relay in Kazakhstan 2013 is one of my best memories in Ski orienteering ever. I remember how nervous I was before the start. On the last leg we started off together with Sweden and Finland teams. Petter Arnesson, who had won all individual races the previous days, went for Sweden and a strong Staffan Tunis for Finland. I haven't seen them on that race but I felt that they were somewhere very close to me. This feeling kept much adrenaline on me. I made a good race there and finished first with the national flag. I also had many bad races in my carrier which I consider as good lessons for the future.
You took a great result in the World Cup 2015/2016's first round, last December, by winning the Middle Distance race. What do you keep from Yllas, Finland? Was it the way you expected to be for starting the season?
A. L. - In Yllas I was in quite good shape although it was very early in the season. After a bad Sprint race, I focused on the Middle and made it exactly how I wanted: reliable and fast. On the Long Distance I broke a pole and finished quite far behind. I didn't get overall points there that I was hoping for, but this fact turns the competition in the World Cup's second round much more valuable if I want to fight for the Overall World Cup.
How do you feel for the competition in the Ore Mountains, Germany, next weekend?
A. L. - I competed in Russian Cup a week ago and it went perfect for me, but afterwards I got a little bit sick and I was four or five days off training. Now I feel better and I've already done two ski trainings. I'm very glad to feel that my body did a good response. Not perfect but good. We have two more days before the World Cup starts and I hope it will be enough to recover totally.
I believe that your attentions are already pointing to the European Championships, in Austrian, where you'll be defending your gold in the Middle Distance. What do you expect from the competition?
A. L. - All I feel about ESOC now is the expectation of skiing in the alpine sun. There are not so many sunny days during winter in the region where I live and that's why I'm longing for competing there.
Talking about the competitors, how do you rate your adversaries? Is there anyone in special that you like to beat the most?
A. L. - The first round showed that it's going to be a tight fight for the World Cup overall. There are five or six athletes showing good stable performances. I don't usually think about my opponents on the competition but I can say I liked to compete against Hans Jorgen Kvale and Staffan Tunis. I liked to see how serious HJ was before the races. It felt like there was nothing else in his head before the start but the race itself. I liked to watch that because I wanted to get that too in some way. I'm usually not that serious before a race and sometimes it doesn't work weel for me. I competed much against Staffan also.This guy impressed me when he could manage a tough race with big winning gap. I'm missing them this season.
How do you see the new wave, with names like Ulrik Nordberg, Tuomas Kotro, Tove Alexandersson, Tatyana Oborina or Frida Sandberg?
A. L. - It is always good to have young strong athletes on international level. Younger athletes are hotter of the race they want to beat more experienced ones. They add special colours to an event and don't let relax the older ones. I think it's very good that young athletes can bring competitiveness to any race.
Ski orienteering in the Olympics, is it an utopia or do you believe in dreams becoming reality? What is still missing to Ski orienteering to receive such recognition?
A. L. - I think Ski orienteering has no other way than to get into Olympics. I believe that, sooner or later, it will come true. We need to show to people how exciting this sport is, to learn how to film the sport in a way that normal people can understand what we do. I'm glad that we have Hans Jorgen Kvale as marketing manager in IOF. He's young and ambitious and he's devoted to Orienteering. I know that he's working hard for Orienteering and I believe that many good changes are coming.
The Ski Orienteering season is very short and we can see some ski orienteers using the “pause” to compete in FootO and MTBO. What about yourself? How do you keep the good shape between March and November?
A. L. - I do Foot orienteering in summer with pleasure. I compete for IFK Mora OK in big relays and you can meet me on O-ringen as well. I would like to try MTB orienteering someday but one things stops me: I'm a terrible mechanic :)
Would you like to share your biggest wish?
The biggest wish for now is a better Russian Ruble exchange rate :)
[Photo: Erik Borg / orienteering.org]