Ski Jumping legend Janne Ahonen finally ended his storied career and has now transitioned into a new position: he will support the Finnish Nordic Combined team as technician responsible for equipment development.
Ahonen had already assisted the team last season, and will now take over equipment development and optimisation with the athletes.
"Last season's work started with the jumping suits but it was still a basic operation, we started quite a bit from scratch. Now we get to test and fine tune already during the summer. In addition, I believe that all athletes could have even better optimised tools for ski jumping ”says Ahonen.
During the summer, Ahonen will be involved in a large number of camps to make sure that everyone's equipment is perfectly adjusted. The big amount of work will be done in the early months and when moving on to snow and towards the World Cup later in the year. While the equipment must be in good condition at the time, the jumping suits are constantly being made.
"The Nordic Combined team is young and open-minded team has a good feeling towards being at work. I was amazed how open the group is.” says Ahonen, whose interest and experience in the equipment brings the much-needed expertise to the combined team.
Head coach Petter Kukkonen sees Ahonen's entry into the national team as a big development.
"I have never had the opportunity to develop equipment in this way in the past, and now we have the opportunity to work on the equipment side with Janne," says Kukkonen, who joined the team in 2012.
The rest of the team's coaching staff is familiar: Petter Kukkonen continues as head coach, Jari Hiekkavirta remains responsible for physical training, Jarkko Saapunki for ski jumping, and Terhi Lehtovita for psychological coaching.
The primary task of the national team during the training period will be a significant improvement of ski jumping skills. Even though during the past season, Kukkonen had actually reduced the cross-country training volumes, the Finnish team was one of the strongest on the track last winter.
"The training plan is very much the same as in the previous years. The biggest changes are a reduction of the common camp season, which is about ten per cent less than before, and a tighter control of the home training periods. The goal is to better manage the overall load," says head coach Kukkonen.