Finnish success coach Kukkonen continues 4 more years

11 April 2018 12:39
Petter Kukkonen
Petter Kukkonen -
NordicFocus

Petter Kukkonen, the father of the Finnish team’s way back to success will continue his work in the next Olympic period. Kukkonen, as well as physiotherapist Jari Hiekkavirta signed new contracts in the form of 2+2 years, the Finnish Ski Association announced.

Kukkonen started his work as the leader of the youth team in 2010 and has been head coach of the national team since 2012, completely restructuring the Finnish system. The past eight years of this reconstruction process have yielded great results, as Mikka Kulmala, the Sports Director of the Federation confirms. 

“Petter Kukkonen has done a wonderful job of developing possible medalists for the next Olympiad and we had a good discussion about our common goal to take this development further. It was very easy to arrive at the conclusion that the high quality work will lead to further successes and a rising visibility, leading to increased commercial value and boosted resources for the discipline in the coming years.”

Kukkonen has been able to accompany his current success athletes since they were 13-15 years old. “It has been a great time since a number of little boys started their development. Together, we have had failures and successes. We are like a small family that has grown together. It’s an extraordinary process”, Kukkonen commented their joint path to success.

On Kukkonen’s watch, the Finnish team has risen to the top again and has been rewarded with a fifth place in the Nations Cup with almost 800 points more than in the last season, effectively closing a big gap to fourth and third-placed nation Japan and Austria. Kukkonen highlights that this success is not based on one athletes’ performance but the effect of the hard work of 4-5 high-level athletes.

“This is the first season in which we can talk about a breakthrough for the entire team” says the Nordic Combined Awards 2018 Coach of the Year-Nominee. “We were in the fight for the podium in a great number of competitions. This is what we have been pursuing for years.”

With all the successes, Kukkonen’s eye is still set firmly on to the future and the next goals. “While the skiing performance has increased for the entire team (Herola on average 20 seconds on a 10 km track, Mutru 40 seconds), the next goal is to work on the goal of detachment and a tactical eye during the races. This is the way to win competitions. On the jumping side, we have invested a lot in the last 2-3 years but we have to keep working, especially on the mental side of ski jumping and ‘out of the box’ thinking.”