Nikita Kriukov belongs to Russian sprint specialists. Last season he made it three times on the World Cup podium. in Kuusamo, Otepää and Rybinsk he claimed third places. In addition he is Olympic Champion from Sprint Classic in Whistler. There he left behind teammate Alexander Panzhinskiy and one of biggest favourites Petter Northug.
Q: Nikita, in 2007 you were for the first time at Russian national training camp in Otepää. Now, you are Olympic Champion. Not bad for 3 years. Did you change more in those three years or in 5 months after your Olympic victory?
Nikita Kryukov: Yes, some things have changed over past 5 months. I carried out the preparation for Olympics with a clear head but now there are some problems that must be solved. However, I try to keep the same level of training process and not be distracted.
Q: What problems may have the Olympic champion?
NK: Good problems! Life. (smiles)
Q: Oh, I see - buying a new apartment, car ...
NK: Well, the car was a gift!
Q: Flat too?
NK: I do not know anything about that! (smiles)
Q: When I talked with Yuri Kaminsky (M. Kaminsky - coach of Nikita Kryukov - Ed.), he told me that a major change in the group is the massive increase in motivation. He had the impression that now the motivation is even higher than during the preparation for the Olympic Games.
NK: To be honest, I have not noticed that. On the contrary, I think that we unloaded ourselves after the Olympics. Perhaps it is always like that. When the Olympics are over you feel relief and you you start again with a four-year cycle. I have taken part in some World Cup races but only after the Olympics I realized the difference. It is practically heaven and earth.
Q: How interesting - quite the opposite opinion of the coach and athlete. The coach thinks that you are very serious now and carry out workouts to the limit.
NK: Probably. But I, on the contrary I am now feeling weaker. Perhaps it is a psychological effect after the Olympics. You are frightened to loose your status. You want to confirm your qualities and skills. So now I'm trying to work with my coach hard to confirm my status next winter.
Q: When we talked after the Olympics, you talked about the sprint World Cup as unconquered top.
NK: To win World Cup Sprint ranking is a great honor., which is maybe bigger than victory in Olympic Games. I have already said that the Olympics are about one start, one race. World Cup ranking victory is about fighting your opponents throughout the season. So have a dream to win the World Cup ranking. However, I will be very difficult this winter.
Q: Last season we saw four strong Russians. Alexey Petukhov was the clear leader. Then came Nikita Morillov and Panzhinsky were coming. Now there are 4 athletes perfectly equal.
NK: Yes, if you see it that way we have a very strong team now. You should not forget Misha Devetyaro and Andrey Parfenov. There are six skiers in the elite. From this perspective the competition in the team is big.
Q: Is it good?
NK: Absolutely, healthy competition and rivalry brings better results.