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Name: Maria Ntanou
Hometown: Naousa, Imathia
Country: Greece
Age: 28
Sport: Cross Country Skiing
Years in the sport: 15

How did you get started ski racing?
I was an athlete of track and field when I was a child when coaches from the local ski club visited my school to introduce the sport and take us through certain balance and endurance exercises at the age of 13.

Goals for the next year?
Biggest objective Is the world championships in Seefeld 2019, to perform and achieve as best results as possible for my country.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I have been working in sports the past four year pursuing a dual career, I have worked for Olympic games Rio 2016 and youth Olympics Buenos Aires 2018. Even if I studied Economic science, I am seeing myself staying in the industry of sports for couple of years. I would like to contribute to the sport, give back and inspire young people. I believe that athletes that should be aware of their valuable skills that re holding during their sport career that can be trasferted to the working environment later,avoiding any possible crisis.

Favourite athlete? 
Giannis Antetokounmpo GRE
I like him as he stayed humble after all his success.

What has been your biggest challenge as an athlete and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was my participation in the Olympics of PyeongChang 2018 and not so much Vancouver 2010. This is because I was working at the same time and I was committed to my work. I had to sacrifice a lot to achieve this qualification and also this great result for Greece at the games.

Best advice that you have been given?
To make goals bigger than that one you can reach so that you find yourself somewhere in the middle.

Any hobbies?
Reading, traveling. I love history and geography.

Favourite music?
Greek folk music and jazz.

What’s the best part of competing?
It is the excitement, the adrenaline of pushing yourself to the maximum. It is the great feeling after your cross the finish line of each race.

Favourite quote?
“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit” – Aristotle.

If you could train with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
It would be Manuela Di Centa ITA.

If you could compete in another sport what would it be and why?
Fencing, because it requires mental, physical, technical and strategic skills.

Favourite place to compete?
France.

Do you have any special warm up routine?
Yes, 30 min slow warm up on skis adding few sprints at the end before the start.

What time is your alarm set for?
7am.

Ice cream or cake?
Ice cream.

What do you do on your rest days?
If I have not many days I go to the cinema, I go out with friends and I take my time to read books.
If Its after season I travel and visit my friends around Europe.

Last nonfood item you bought?
A nice hat.

Do you have a lucky number?
No.

Best thing you’ve done in the past 3 months?
I have donated some of my ski clothes to my ski club in Greece.

Strangest thing you’ve ever witnessed?
A favela experience in Rio de Janeiro.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Believe in yourself, you have a star and you will success in your life…

Scariest thing you’ve ever done?
I have entered a tunnel in the highway of Switzerland on mountain bike.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one person and thing would you like to have?
My father.

What would be your perfect meal?
Fish with vegetables next to the sea.

What performance are you most proud of?
Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018 10km when I was able to pass 14 nations. Best results of a Greek cross-country skier.

Hardest sport moment you’ve had to push through?
Last qualification weekend before PyeongChang 2018 in January.

What have you learned from xc skiing that has helped you in other parts of your life?
The determination, the self-discipline, the time management the ability to commit until you reach your goal, the patience of your hard work to appear the right moment.

Favourite place to eat?
Sea side in Greece.

If you had to travel either forward in time or backward in time?
I would go backward, when the world was less connected to technology when social communication was appreciated and that everything was more pure.

What is the most unusual, challenging, or creative workout you’ve ever done?
Doing skating with shoes of classic technique.

Favourite animal?
Dog.

Dream job besides an athlete?
Entrepreneur.

What motivates you to keep training?
The contact with the nature, the silence of the mountains, the well being and youth athmosphere that cross country skiing gives to the athletes.

Favourite time of year?
Summer.

Of all the people you have trained with over the years, from whom have you learned the most and why?
From the French team / team nordique I am training right now. Because, it’s a great mixture of team and individual spirit. the analysis of our performance and the great atmosphere during our camps.

How many hours do you train at a given week?
15-18

Best memory you have from a time when you were training?
When I was a student at school, and we were getting lost on the mountain while training due to fog on skis with my team mates in Greece.

If you could trade places with anyone for a day who would it be? Why?
Kikkan Rhandal, in Alaska because I have never been and I believe it is magical there.

What are you plans for 5 years down the line?
Perhaps have another master degree, and start my own company.

Favourite book?
Not without my daughter, Betty Mahmoody.

What does a typical day of training look like?
Breakfast in the morning, training until midday endurance or specific training, lunch, rest – power nap and then training again easier training that morning. Back at 6pm shower, dinner, tea and chocolate then stretching then reading or movie and back to sleep.

Anything people be surprised to learn about you?
Not coming from a skiing family I loved skiing.

What is the funniest thing has happened to you/others while training?
I was training in Greece prior to Vancouver 2010 on roller skies and on a downhills I almost crashed into two donkeys that were in the middle of the road.

Best movie and tv series?
Lord of the rings.

Favourite food while training?
Potatoes with sausage I eat everything apart from spicy food.

Results you’re most proud of?
2 consecutive years I was ranked 3rd in the total ranking of the Balkan cup FIS. I have won several Balkan cups.

What inspires you?
Nature and positive people.

Do you have a saying or motto you live by?
Live your day as your last one.

What do you enjoy most about cross country skiing?
The fact of being so close to nature, to experience so different weather condition during your training that makes you stronger and calm as a person. And humble.

Advise that you have for someone starting out xc skiing?
Push more when it starts getting hard.

What is the most crucial part of your training?
During the fall season.

Anyone you would like to thank?
my family first of all who left me follow my dreams who were there always there for me who gave me freedom to decide what I wanted to be in my life. My friends in Greece and in Lausanne who supported me in the most difficult moments of my participation to the games and outside of sports. So grateful to have those friends they are precious to me.

Please add any social media links you have:
Facebook – MariantanouOLY 
Twitter – Maria_danou
Instagram – Maria Ntanouoly

If you enjoyed reading about Maria Ntanou, be sure to check out our interview with Cross Country skier, Leevi Mutru

Check out Maria Ntanou’s in her interview with Olympic360