Athlete Mirlene Picin paid tribute to the three-time F1 world Champion during the Nordic World Ski Championships, which took place in the city of Falun, in Sweden, and ended on March 1st. The skier and trail-runner competed wearing a hat inspired by the green-and-yellow helmet made famous by the driver. It’s a homage made in partnership with the Ayrton Senna Institute.

It was her fourth consecutive time representing Brazil in World Championships – she was also in Liberec (2009), Oslo (2011) and Val Di Fiemme (2013). Mika, as she’s also known, took part in the 5KM skating competition. “I competed in a country where both skiing and motor racing are national obsessions. Senna is still an icon in Sweden, that’s why I decided to honor him”, explains Mirlene. “I took the values that guided Ayrton’s life and career to this championship. That’s why I’m wearing a symbol that’s so uniquely his”, adds the Brazilian.

Mika faced 46 competitors and finished in 22nd place, but didn’t make the finals, “Unfortunately, I didn’t finish among the top ten. It’s still hard for us Brazilians, since it’s a very competitive sport and the best athletes in the world were there, but I was really happy with my performance. I’ve beat many countries that have a tradition in snow sports, and have a solid training structure”, said the athlete, who finished the same competition, last year in 27th place.

Mirlene believes her hat was a hit with the audience of the event. “The hat came up a lot in the days before the competition, and also in the day of. I couldn’t leave the press area after finishing the race. Everybody wanted to talk to me because I am Brazilian and, obviously, because of the homage. There were 5 thousand people at the stadium. TV crews followed me around from the warm-up to the end of the race, and my picture was in the jumbotrons all the time. Commenters talked about my homage both in Swedish and English. It was a really thrilling day in my career”, said Mika.

Mirlene comes from the world of freestyle and speed roller-skating, but she fund her calling in skiing (cross country and biathlon). She has 17 medals, collected between 2009 and 2014. Mountain-racing came into Mirlene as part of her ski summer-training, but she won the 2013 Mizuno Uphill, an upwards 42 km marathon, in Rio de Janeiro.

Born in Mogi Mirim, near São Paulo, she also has the best result among Brazilian athletes in the “Two Oceans” 56 km ultra-marathon, held in Cape Town.