Project Ylläs-Levi 2019

We repeat last year's success, 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:

NameBenedikte Friis

Position: Service Manager

Experience with skiing: I have limited experience with cross country skiing. I was introduced to it several years ago, and since then, I have enjoyed it once a year, for Easter. After I moved to Norway last year, I purchased my own pair of skies, which I am still trying to master.  

Why did I apply: Visma Ski Classics has intrigued me since I started at Visma - February this year - and I have thought about applying since my first day. I am amazed by the enthusiasm behind the sponsorship and the empowerment of a #VismaActive lifestyle.

I believe that Project Ylläs-Levi offers a unique opportunity to learn cross country skiing in an inspiring and professional environment, while challenge myself both mentally and physically, in a 67 km long race. Something, I believe, I would never master without being part of this project - and this is why I applied.

My expectations: I expect to have a lot of fun but the race to be challenging, hard, and unlike everything else I have ever done before. No matter how the race will turn out, I expect to get the experience of a lifetime, to get to know inspiring people, and to hopefully, look like a Norwegian in the slopes by April ;).

Name: Fredrick Strøm

Position: Senior Consultant

Experience with skiing: I don’t have a lot of experience in cross country skiing. Over the last 12 years I have only skied three times. Before that I went on some smaller trips with my family, but in these trips the focus was fishing, making campfire and eating.

The last time I went cross country skiing was 4 years ago, with colleagues from Visma, and I used my father’s ski. Me and my father have totally different weights, so the wax didn’t hit the snow. This made the uphill hard and it was not a pleasant trip.

Why did I apply: I have never enjoyed skiing, but I think the reason is lack of stamina and ski technique. Project Ylläs Levi was a great opportunity to gain this ski experience and fitness, and hopefully change my mindset of cross country skiing.

I also like to challenge myself, and 67 km sounds like an impossible distance
to ski. However, I think it is possible through this program and individual training. Another motivation for me is to take a winter course in the Norwegian Red Cross. This course consists of cross country skiing in the mountains. The course is already stated, but I got a new chance next year!

My expectations: I expect to develop strength, stamina and skiing technique, and be prepared to ski a distance of 67 km. I’m also looking forward to have a fun experience with new and motivated people. I think this will be one of my highlights in life. 

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!

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