Maiju Laurila returned home from the Beijing Winter Paralympics - “A Unique Experience”
Picture: Harri Kapustamäki

Maiju Laurila returned home from the Beijing Winter Paralympics - “A Unique Experience”

Maiju Laurila, the alpine skier living and practicing in Levi, had her first winter Paralympics in Beijing. Laurila, who competes in the LW12-1 class, finished tenth in the giant slalom and the race in the slalom ended in the first round. Maiju Laurila and visually impaired skier Inkki Inola carried the Finnish team's flag at the opening ceremony.

Maiju Laurila, who is one of Levi's ambassadors, got information about joining the team very close to the Olympics. Maiju did 1-2 free runs a week before the race, and her own track training a few times in one week. In addition to this, she had guided training three times a week together with Levi Snow Sport Academy and Levi Ski Club. Mental preparation, EFT technology was also added to Maiju's training program.

- I trained what I had time before the race and also got good time to rest. I also needed mental training, which I did with EFT technique. This was a new thing for me, but it will definitely be included in to my own training program, because it was very useful, says Maiju.

The Olympics were a very amazing experience for Maiju. Although she did not get a result in the slalom, there were a lot of positive elements in her runs. Maiju's coach Pertti Kuivalainen was also present at the Olympics.

- I haven't dared to watch the giant slalom in the video yet, but it went as I expected. I made my own cautious run, such a training-like run in relation to the circumstances. The slalom race was a big disappointment. I would have liked to get a result, but next time I will show what I can do. The start of the slalom went well and I heard I was in fifth place before my mistake, so it was positive, says Maiju.

The Olympics are the highlights of a career for an athlete. Representing your own country, joining a team and, of course, gathering your own Olympic experience.

- Beijing had a different feeling than normal at the races. We were considered top athletes and stars, so it felt so different. The area where we lived and competed was fenced. We had been isolated in the middle of the mountains, so I felt that we lived and competed inside our own bubble. I was impressed by the slopes, the snow, and the whole event site that had been built there just for the Olympics. The joy and culture of the Chinese were also memorable, says Maiju.

Maiju became the flag carrier of the opening ceremony in the first Paralympics of her career.

- I didn't even realize until I got home, that I was able to compete there too, and how unique the whole experience was. And I got to be the flag carrier at the opening ceremony. The team doctor said it’s rarer than getting a lottery win when you get to carry the flag at the Olympics. Only after this comment, did I realize I really appreciate the task of carrying a Finnish flag, Maiju recalls.

Maiju's race season has ended for this season. Now she takes a small break, which, however, includes a light workout. In the summer, she will start her physics training again, as the new competition season will start at the WPAS in November.

Maiju Laurila Beijing Picture: Karl Nilsson Parasport Sverige
Maiju Laurila Beijing
Pertti Kuivalainen Maiju Laurila's coach Beijing