The 43rd FIS Nordic world Ski Championships finalized on the 5th of march, with Norway taking the most medals (27), followed by Sweden (12) and Germany (12).
The only African nation to make it through to the tournament was Nigeria. Nigeria are known for producing many great athletes in different sports, and currently some of the best athletes in the world hail from Nigeria, such as world recorder holder Tobi Amusan, Serie A top goal scorer Victor Osimhen, NBA champion Giannis Antentokounmpo and many more. It is almost no surprise that Nigeria are now seriously looking to take on winter sports.
Representing Nigeria at the Ski Championships was cross country skier Samuel Ikpefan.
Ikpefan took part in 2 disciplines, the men’s 15km individual start free and the men’s sprint final classic.
At the men’s 15km individual start free, Ikpefan finished outside of the 94, ranking 114 out of 155, thus didn’t qualify for the final race.
Samuel Ikpefan had a better race in the men’s sprint final classic, ranking 62 out of 133 at a time of 3.20.57.
Ikpefan has made history for Nigeria a number of times in recent years. In 2021 he became the first Nigerian Skier to compete at the World Country Ski Championships and The World Cup. In 2022 he was the first Nigerian skier to participate at the Winter Olympic Games.
Samuel Lives and trains in Europe but has made it very clear that he takes pride in representing Nigeria, and will always work on inspiring Nigerians to take on skiing. He hopes that by skiing, he can not only encourage Nigeria to engage in winter sports, but the whole of Africa.
Since his switch from France to Nigeria in 2018, the Nigerian Ski Federation has worked closely with Ikpefan.
Ikpefan currently trains at Ski Club Nordique Du Pays Rochois, a ski club based in France that works with elite skiers.
He has played other sports including football (at a high level), judo, tennis and swimming, but ultimately decided to focus on Skiing from the age of 16.
Ikpefan has set up a campaign to help raise money to fund his participation in future skiing events. The link to the campaign can be found on his instagram page: @Sam Ikpef
What’s next for Nigeria?
Nigeria will look to qualify for the 44th FIS Nordic World Ski Championships set to take place in 2025 in Trondheim, Norway, and for the 2026 Winter Olympics set to take place in Italy.
While Ikpefan is the main Nigerian athlete representing Nigeria in Skiing, hopefully with the work of the Nigerian Ski Federation and Ikpefan, more Nigerians will take part in skiing in the upcoming years.