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Tony Öhberg
Iivo Niskanen is cheering and holding the golden disc, one of the prizes given to the Athete of the Year at the Finnish Sports Gala in Helsinki Arena on January 17, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Skier Iivo Niskanen, 27, cast a wide smile while waving the “Uno prize,” which looks like a shining silver dumbbell, in his hands. He was standing in the spotlights of the Finnish Sports Gala in Helsinki Arena late on Thursday evening.

The prize portrays a mighty symbol.  It represents the relentless fire and passion of a true athlete, the Athlete of the Year.

This was the third time Niskanen received the honor.

Last year in February, in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Niskanen took home gold in 50km mass start classic cross-country ski race.

His time: 2.08.22,1.

Russia crossed the goal line behind him, 18.7 seconds later, followed by another Russian and guys from Canada and Norway.

Last year, Niskanen claimed the prize for winning the 15-kilometer classical cross-country race at the Nordic world championship in Lahti. He also won bronze in the team sprint.

In 2014, Niskanen shared the title with his fellow teammate after winning Olympic gold in the team sprint with Sami Jauhojärvi in Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

“One must do his job as well as possible, and great results can be achieved,” Niskanen said after the ceremonies on Thursday.