Hometown: Naousa, Imathia - GRE 

Hellas Ski Team 

2 x Cross-country Skiing Olympian 

Copy%20of%20AUG_2443_edited.jpg
2272_1100036062239_3691_n.jpg
2272_1100064942961_8518_n_edited.jpg

My childhood…

I grew up in a town called Naousa, Imathia, on the north part of Greece next to Thessaloniki. My hometown has always had a strong tradition in alpine and cross-country skiing, with many athletes from the local club taking part in the Olympic Games over the years. As a young child, i had high curiosity in sports. I had tried gymnastics, volleyball, athletics when at the age of 12 I discovered cross-country skiing and took it up seriously.  

‘’It is a magnificent sport that brings me close to nature, it requires physical and mental strength, stamina and is quite humbling’’ 

Going international… 

I joined the cross-country national ski team for the first time when i was finishing the high school, at the age of 17, and in just 3 years i was representing my county, Greece, at the Junior World Championships, FIS Senior World Championships and the Olympic Games. At the age of 19, i competed at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. After the games, i continued racing for 1 year but then decided to take a break and finish my studies in Economics at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. 

Ensuring that i had something after my sporting career was very important for me and i believe that this is the best choice that an athlete of any sport can make.

‘’Career transition is very important for every athlete. It gives the possibility to leverage the skills that you have obtained from your sport to develop yourself and become a well-balanced individual.’’

Ntanou_maria1.jpg
AUG_0660.JPG
AUG_0135 pc.jpg

The ‘come-back’...

I had other aspirations for Pyeongchang 2018. The dream to compete once again at an Olympic Games has always been in my mind so in 2015 i set myself another goal- to compete at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. And like before, combining studies with cross-country skiing, i have had a similar challenge, but this time it has been combining work with sports. 

For PyeongChang 2018, I prepared in Switzerland, where I was working at the International Fencing Federation (FIE) as Digital Communications Manager. I had skipped the Sochi 2014 Games because I was preparing for my master’s. It was very different, more professional. I knew the environment well, I was a member of one team in Switzerland, and another in the French Jura while I worked part-time at the FIE. This shows that you can do both at the same time. 

The PyeongChang Games were a totally different experience, and I achieved much better results. I hold the performance record for Greek female cross-country skier at the Winter Games.

Athlete Role model at Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games…

In January 2020, I was honored to be an Athlete Role Model for the youth Olympic games of Lausanne 2020 in Switzerland. I was happy to share my experiences with the young athletes in the Olympic village, in the venues and engage with the audience who came to celebrate the festivities. 

Photo by Greg Martin/IOC

PT_XC Ski_20200121_GM_180.jpg
20200121_CC_W_MEYLAN_0003.JPG
20200121_103528.jpg

My message to youth athletes… 

It is important to have dreams, and not to give up on them, because thanks to our efforts, we learn a lot about sport, we acquire qualities and skills for life. We are dynamic, we learn how to manage time properly. We learn how to get organised for the rest of our lives. And we can combine a sports career with studies or a job. You have to know how to set priorities according to deadlines. For example, if you have to go to the Games, you can use other things for your mental balance. I was happy to have a job while I was working hard to get my degree. When things were going badly in sport, I felt liberated returning to work. You have to think about something else. It is absolutely possible to combine two activities in your life.