Last season, Mäkelä got to experience long-distance skiing in the Ski Classics competitions in addition to skiing at the Ruka World Cup. In the Italian Grand Classics race Marcialonga, Mäkelä did a promising race and was the best Finn in 33rd place. He also competed in Vasaloppet and Ylläs-Levi, but on the former, he had challenges with his skis, and an illness preceded the latter.
Now Mäkelä is putting his efforts into long-distance skiing.
” I would not do it if I did not believe in it myself. I will still ski in Pohti’s colors (Pyhäjärven Pohti, his ski club in Finland) for the Finnish Cup. The only national weekend I will miss is the Finnish National Championships in Tampere, when I will be at La Diagonela.”
During the last training season, Mäkelä did not do much special training for long distances. Now it is different.
” I have done sessions on skating only a few times.”
Mäkelä says he has gradually increased the amount of double poling training, getting used to the exertion.
” The length of the training has increased to more than three hours. For the Vuokatinvaara climb, I have done 8-minute climbs. I do cycling perhaps more than others, and cycling workouts have become 3-6 hour sessions,” Mäkelä explains his key workouts.
Mäkelä, who lives in Vuokatti with his partner Katri Lylynperä (Finnish national team skier), says that Vuokatti is always a good place to find a training company. He trains mainly with Lylynperä and Joni Mäki, who are both coached by national team coach Juho Halonen, especially during camps.
Mäkelä, whose education is as a civil engineer, has been working during the summer, which has kept the amount of training in moderation.
” Working in the summer allows me to fully focus on skiing in the winter.”
Last winter taught Mäkelä at least a few things about long-distance skiing:
” I know better now where I have to be (tactically) alert in each race. I also understood in general what it takes to be able to ski long distances at a high level.”
Focusing on long distances also places new demands on ski equipment. He believes that he will not be the underdog in this area. Mäkelä, who skis with Madshus, has got competitive double poling pairs and more are on the way. Additionally, Mäkelä’s expertise on the matter helps.
” I have been on the ski side supporting Katri, and certainly, we have gotten the best out of the current equipment.”