SAPPORO, Japan, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Mikko Olavi Virtanen, head coach of the Chinese cross-country skiing team, said on Monday that he believes China has a huge potential for the sport.
The Chinese cross-country skiing team pocketed two medals at the eighth Winter Asiad here on Monday, as Man Dandan won the women's 1.4 km individual sprint classical and Sun Qinghai took a silver in the men's event.
"Very good. I'm very satisfied," said the Finnish, who has only been head coach for the Chinese team for seven months.
"For the whole season, we have trained hard and tried to push ourselves to the limit, and we succeeded today," he said.
Virtanen said earlier that his goal for the team at the Winter Asiad was to win three medals. Monday was obviously more than a good start.
He lavished with praises on the gold medalist Man. "I'm happy about her performance. She is a super talented sprint skier," he said.
Though a veteran who has taken part in three Winter Olympics, Man had her best performance before Monday at the 2007 World Cup, in which she got the eighth place.
"Her biggest problem before was to maintain the speed for four rounds of the competition. We have worked on that for the past seven months," said Virtanen.
"I have been giving her advice on techniques, such as how to save the energy to the final round," he said, adding that Man is a good learner.
As for the Chinese team, he believes that it has a very good future ahead, though there is still much work to do.
"We have a quite young team. We still have five more years to the Beijing Winter Olympics. I hope we can continue with this good work for a long term, and then we can develop our level even more," he said.
"Of course, there are also difficulties," he said, noting that unlike his home country Finland, skiing is not yet "in the people's veins" in China.
"Beijing Winter Olympics will be a huge opportunity for the Chinese team to build something new," he said, adding that he hopes he could give something to the team.
"As an Olympic event, cross-country skiing needs more countries (to take part in), or it would be only for Norway, Sweden, Russia, Finland, and would not be an interesting sport," he said.