Project Ylläs-Levi 2018

This season, we will repeat the success from last year's Project Ylläs-Levi, with candidates from three countries working towards competing in the Visma Ski Classics competition in Ylläs-Levi, Finland.


Meet the brave faces of the Ylläs-Levi challenge!

Petter Hoxmark and Victoria Ernstsen from Norway, Jonna Holmberg and Joakim Granat from Sweden, Matti Aaltonen and Albert Wikström from Finland has accepted the ultimate Visma Ski Classics challenge! From January we will follow them on the journey towards becoming long distance skiers at Yllas-Levi on April 8.

Read about their immediate reactions when they received the news just before Christmas:

NameVictoria Nærø Ernstsen

CompanyVisma Collectors AS

Position: Consultant

Experience with skiing: It has been 15 years since I did cross country skiing. So I think we can conclude this with almost none! I have however, been running downhill these 15 years instead, but I don't think we can compare those two, hah!

Why did I apply: After I moved to Oslo I found out that cross country is a really popular activity to do here. So I wanted to take up my non-existing skills and buy myself some skis for Christmas. When I saw this project I thought that this is my chance to actually learn how to do this. So it was kind of an impulse decision when I applied. I love to challenge myself and thought that this could be a perfect opportunity to do just that. So why not start all of this by complete a 55KM race!  

My expectations: I expect this to be really hard and challenging, but also fun and with a lot of new experience which I’m really looking forward to attain. I now have a New Year resolution and a goal for the first part of 2017 - which I’m super excited about!

Name: Petter Hoxmark

Company: Visma Unique AS

Position: Consulting Manager

Experience with skiing: Have been skiing 3-4 times per season the past three years and less before that.

Why did I apply: Because I love a good challenge! I have also wanted  to take part of the Ski Classics for a couple of years without really signing up, so I thought this project could give me that final push to just do it.

My expectations: To become a better skier, getting in better shape and have a lot of fun with great colleagues

NameJonna Holmberg

CompanyVisma Commerce


Experience with skiing: Went skiing almost every year as a child - but last time as an “grown-up” was 5-6 years ago.

Why did I apply: Trying something different, and for the mental and physical challenge!

My expectations3 months of new ways of working out and (hopefully) improving my skiing-skills, and for the 8th april - may the force be with me!

NameJoakim Granat

CompanyVisma EssCom AB

PositionFinancial controller

Experience with skiing: I used to compete in skiing as a child and teenager so hopefully part of the technique and balance is still there even though I've not skied more than 2-3 times in the past 10 years.

Why did I apply: I've never taken part in one of the Visma Ski Classics races so far and even though I have some previous experience in skiing, getting back into the physical shape required  to participate always felt like a pretty tough project to take on. To be able to participate this way feels very motivating and much less like something I do all on my own. Hence, it feels as if I ever want to complete a long skiing race, there will not be a better opportunity along the way.

My expectations: To win of course! Apart from that, I'm looking forward to the entire experience. To be professionally coached, to see how I can improve my technique after all these years of not skiing and of course to properly get back into shape. I also hope that this will give me a different skiing experience than those I previously have and that I will be able to keep skiing after the race as well.

Name: Albert Wikström (on the left)

CompanyVisma Solutions Oy

Position: Partner Manager

Experience with skiingI have some skiing experience. There is a photo in my childhood´s photo album from 1986 when my father took me and my sister skiing in Helsinki Central Park. The outside temperature was -20 degrees and I remember that there was no one else in the park that day. I have some experience also from later years (2009-2013), when we had properly snow here in Helsinki area.

Why did I apply: I applied for the project because I have been dreaming about participating in a long-distance cross-country skiing competition. My sister has often participated in the Vasa Loppet competition and has challenged me to the competition too, but I have never been brave enough to participate. Now I can prove to my sister that I can do it. Maybe she can give me some tips on how to survive the race.

My expectations: I expect that this project Ylläs-Levi will be a memorable experience. My own goals in training have been lost lately and I hope I will find new energy for training again. I`m looking forward to training with a professional coach for the competition. In honor of my 35th birthday on 7th of April, I'm going to prove to myself that I can do this. The project includes a heavy training period and probably some despair at times, but it will be worth it when I cross the finish line!


NameMatti Aaltonen (on the right)

CompanyVisma Software Oy

Position: Application Specialist

Experience with skiing: I have a long background in track and field, but to be honest, winter sport and skiing is unfamiliar sport for me. I love to watch it from TV though, and it will be great to learn skiing and technique from the professionals!

Why did I apply: I see this project really interesting and super motivating since I'm a quite competitive person and love these kind of challenges. And I guess I'm also a bit crazy and reckless since I applied to this project.

My expectations: Now that the participation of the Ylläs-Levi ski project is reality, my mind is open and expectations are high! I look forward to finding my inner skier with my motivated and enthusiastic attitude and encouragement from my colleagues and friends. I'm sure that great, professional coaching will train this kind of former race runner into a street credible skier who can cope with honor 60 kilometer skiing next spring in Ylläs and Levi terrain. The coming spring will show, what kind of success story or via dolorosa this project will be in the end!