The men’s sprint final was full of new talents, while the women’s saw familiar faces, writes Santtu Silvennoinen from Taivalkoski.

    The track would be open for new domestic successes in women’s skiing, but there aren’t really any potential candidates. Jussi Saarinen

    There has been a lot of talk that Finnish men’s skiing has a positive future after the era of Iivo Niskanen.

    Of course, one Finnish Cup sprint race at the beginning of winter does not affect the big picture, but as a single example, Taivalkoski’s Saturday’s mittelö is impressive. It concretely showed that there are good skiers behind the most famous names in Finland.

    The top six in the final were Ville Ahonen, 28, Juuso Haarala, 26, Verneri Poikonen, 24, Olli Ahonen, 23, Niilo Moilanen, 21, and Ike Melnits, 19.

    None of the sextet had previously won a Finnish Cup competition in their career, and Haarala and Moilasen did not even have podium places. Without counting Ville Aho, no one is even part of the A national team.

    Iivo Niska’s gig at Taivalkoski doesn’t work and Ristomatti Hakola is recovering, but the rest of Finland’s sprint skiing elite in North Ostrobothnia is slipping.

    The new talents hit the stuffy national team players in the throat. That’s how it should be, because many newcomers had a place in the game in the Ruka World Cup and in other world cups made possible by it.

    B national team member Olli Ahonen, 23, took the first Finnish Cup competition victory of his career on Saturday. Jussi Saarinen

    For women, the situation behind the Finnish A national team is dull.

    Kerttu Niskanen and Jasmi Joensuu were absent and Krista Pärmäkoski was severely stuck.

    Anne Kyllönen, 34, Anni Kainulainen, 30, Katri Lylynperä, 28, Johanna Matintalo, 25, Anni Alakoski, 24, and Jasmin Kähärä, 22, competed in the final on Saturday.

    All of them have been on the podium in the Finnish Cup earlier in their careers. Kyllönen has 18, Lylynperä four and Matintalo four after Saturday. The winning trio and Kähärä belong to the A national team.

    For last season the raised assessment is valid: Kähärä (b. 2000) is the only Finnish woman born between 1998 and 2003 who has what it takes to become an internationally successful skier.

    Here are the Lions & Sheep of Saturday’s sprints

    TV shows today, TV guide