After two Olympic campaigns sailing the 49erFX doublehanded skiff and representing Finland at the Olympics in Rio in 2016, and Tokyo in 2020, it was time for me to find a new challenge. My teammate for the Tokyo campaign decided to leave her Olympic days behind, leaving me without a partner to aim for the next Olympics in Paris in 2024.
After nine years of hard work, perfecting every aspect of the sport to succeed at the Olympics, in this one very specific boat, I now faced a choice; to either stop my Olympic athlete career, or to continue towards my Olympic dream in a different class.
Sports at this level require years of experience, dedication and knowledge, making it hard to change between classes, even with the background of a world-class athlete. The only exception is when a new class becomes Olympic. In this upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics, Kite Foil racing (Formula Kite) is included as the new class in Olympic sailing.
My choice was easy. I’m passionate and committed to continuing towards my Olympic dream, no matter what! This led me to this new exotic and exciting class, kite foil racing. Taking on this new class is all but easy. Starting with the fact that this boat class is not actually a sailing boat (what I have sailed all my life) but a kite and a board with a hydrofoil. This is something totally different from what I’ve ever done before and something that is usually considered a separate sport from sailing. Yet this new class will be raced under the same format and rules as sailing, creating opportunities for someone like me, with a fast knowledge in this field, to gain an advantage.
Kiting is a sport I’ve never tried before. Nonetheless, I was ready to take on this new kiting challenge to compete at the next Olympics. Olympic level racing is all about perfecting every aspect. From skills, the mental game, the equipment, to the working environment, the sea and wind. My strengths are knowing what an Olympic campaign requires and my racing experience and knowledge, while on the downside, are my kite-specific skills. By knowing clearly what my strength and weaknesses are and understanding the determination needed by having been at this game for several years, I have an incredible advantage in achieving my goal.
By taking on this challenge, I’ve become a pioneer in Finland. This requires a massive amount of courage and determination to carve the right path for success. A challenge no one else has dared to take. Taking on this challenge also carries the responsibility to lead the way and build a good structure for the youth generation joining and following me. Caring for the future by sharing knowledge and creating a structured pathway is something that gives me extra strength to take on a challenge like this one. Starting from zero is never a smooth ride, but one must do it, for others to follow.
I believe an excellent Olympic campaign consists of various factors; where commitment and support are among the most important. The commitment from the athlete combined with the right professionals and support creates an environment where, we, the athletes can focus on improving ourselves, knowing that those behind us want us to succeed as much as we do. When the right people are linked together through their shared values and common goal, the perfect environment for improvement and success is created. Normet and I share values and goals. That is why I am proud to partner with a company like Normet that supports and encourages that leap into the unknown. Together we will succeed.
Noora Ruskola is a Finnish professional Olympic athlete in sailing and kite foil racing. Noora made her debut in the Rio 2016 Olympics and has since competed in Tokyo Olympics in 2020. She also has two Youth World Championships under her belt and several top 10 positions in World Cups.