April: Oja and Ermits Recovering, Relaxing, Moving On

“The season goes by so quickly, like the blink of the eye and all of the sudden it is over and ‘now what, what am I going to do;’ there is a feeling of emptiness,” is how Regina Oja described her feelings as the 2021/22 season ended and April holidays approached.

Otepaeae and Retirement

However, she and fiancé Kalev Ermits rolled into April, quickly changing gears from the world of biathlon to a holiday on Tenerife, Canary Islands. The Estonian couple both competed in the Beijing OWG, Oja’s first and Ermits’ third, as well as experiencing a home World Cup. Although Beijing was special, Oja admitted, “I think Otepaeae was the highlight of my season, because of the crowds, weather and because this was (emphasizing)…home!” The season’s end in Oslo marked the finish of Ermits’ 10-year international biathlon career. “I have been thinking about this even in the previous season and am quite confident now was the right time.” Before heading south, they left Oslo early, officially closing their seasons watching the Sunday mass starts at home on television. “We were home chilling watching the mass starts with some family, realizing we were not racing, but enjoying a normal life.”

Change of environment

April and the warm sunshine beckoned; two weeks on an island, far from home. “It is good to have a change of environment. When you are at home, there are things to do. You are resting but you are not. I feel that to really rest, you have to change the environment. We went to a warmer climate.” Ermits did not exactly start his holiday with rest, but a new experience, running a half-marathon. Laughing, he said it was “actually a crazy idea, because I had not done any running during the winter…It was maybe a once in a lifetime experience, so I went for it. The next goal is a full marathon.”

With a busy May on the horizon for the couple, he continued, “It is the best time to do something that you really want to do, but generally cannot because you are a professional biathlete. You can do a half-marathon like me or go climbing or base jumping; something really different because in April you have the time.”

“New Places and lots of fun”

Holiday life was mostly unplanned R & R, according to Oja. “We did not have any routine or plan; woke up when we wanted, we ate and went out. Of course, there were some things we wanted to do during the two weeks, but it was not super stressful. We always knew, ‘we have time; there was no hurry.’ The best thing was just staying at a hotel, resting, eating a lot of good food, but staying active and of course, it was hard not to get some sun. We drove around and saw the local life. It is important when you travel that you get to see how the locals live.” Ermits summed up the trip, “My head really needed this kind of relaxation…some days we did almost nothing, just sunbathing and being lazy. It was awesome, (with) new places and lots of fun.”

Return home; looking forward

The end of holidays meant a return to reality and home life with more rest, doing other things with biathlon off the table for Ermits and on the back burner for his bride-to-be. “I met with some sponsors before the vacation, so now I need to meet with some more this month. I am getting a new rifle stock, so I will have to travel a little bit. But I am really excited, because it is kind of a new beginning.” I am kind of preparing myself for May. But mostly I am doing some things I did not have time to do in the season.”

Oja, with a new training season on the horizon considers the holiday period a time “when you can really relax, do things that you want to do the rest of the year. You do not have to think, ‘I have a training session tomorrow and need to be prepared.’ In April, you can give your body the time it needs to rest and make changes like my new rifle. Now, I can feel my body saying that it needs to move more. It is really, really nice to be rested; ready for training.”

Ermits, coming in from working in the garden on a nice spring afternoon, is “Mostly recovering after a tough season, sometimes just sitting around…I spent some days on holiday thinking and planning about what I will do in the future. Now it is time to go forward. I am a certified personal trainer and really interested in fitness for normal (non-athletic) people. The next phase of my life will be helping others. I will first work in a gym and see where it goes after that.”

Stressless May Wedding Plans

After getting engaged last summer, the May wedding looms large for the couple. Ermits explained, “After we got engaged last May, we said, ‘let’s do this as soon as possible.’ It has only taken a year! Last summer we looked around Estonia for places to have it, but nothing matched our expectations. We came up with this crazy idea to do it somewhere else that we like, in the mountains, so it is in Ruhpolding.”

The bride admitted that actually the wedding is almost front and center now. “I cannot get away from the wedding planning. It feels kind of weird that I am not doing too much now because all of big things are prepared and the small things like the decorations you cannot do until a few days before the wedding. I am not stressed out, because so many people are helping us. I am really chill. I keep asking Kalev and my friends, ‘Is it okay that I am this chilled?’ I should be super stressed out but I am not. I really want (the wedding) to be something that I enjoy and not stressful.”

Photos: Regina Oja, Kalev Ermits

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