CBC News - Monday Feb. 3, 2014 19:27 ET

High hopes for Toronto's Len Valjas in Sochi

Tall cross-country skier from Toronto an all-around athlete

Lenny Valjas
Toronto's Lenny Valjas, seen competing in Italy last year, is making his Olympic debut at the Sochi Games.

At six-foot-six, Lenny Valjas is one of the tallest cross-country skiers on the World Cup circuit.

The tall, 25-year-old Torontonian landed in Sochi, Russia, on Monday.

Valjas is making his debut at the Olympic Games in Sochi, though he has won a handful of World Cup medals in recent years.

He grew up in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood and practised his skills at Hardwood Hills in Barrie, Ont.

His former coach, Jack Sasseville, told CBC News that Valjas has used his towering size to his advantage, competing with a combination of power, co-ordination and extreme speed.

"That's not tall for an NBA basketball player, but [he] is the tallest person on the World Cup circuit, so yes, it is unusual," Sasseville said in a recent interview.

Ahead of arriving in Russia, Valjas told CBC News that his intent is to compete as hard as he can in Sochi.

"My ultimate goal is just to go there and be happy with my effort, to race as hard as I can on that day and give everything I can," he said via Skype.

No matter what happens, his father, Peter Valjas says it’s something special to see his son racing at the Olympics.


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