New Finnish medal hope, podium athlete and overall Top Ten finisher, as well as “Rookie of the Year”, the past season definitely could have gone worse for 21-year-old Eero Hirvonen. In this TUESDAY TALK, he speaks about the pressures of the home World Championships, his view on his performances, his ambitious goals for PyeongChang and why he has been absolutely busy also during the spring of 2017.
Eero, you just finished your best season by far, ending up on the eighth place in the overall rankings. Still, during the season, it often felt like you were not fully happy with your performances. Which feeling overwhelms now, with a little bit of distance to what happened?
Eero Hirvonen: Last season was a big step in my career. I think that nobody would have believed that I would get my first podium place and be in the
Top Ten in the overall ranking at the end of the season. During the season, I had very good competitions and also some not so good ones. Of course I want to do my best in every competition and get good results but when things are not going as well as they could, I can get very angry with myself.
But now, when I'm thinking of those "bad competitions", maybe those were not so bad. In the season 2015-2016, I had only one finish in the Top 30 and last season there were only four competitions when I wasn’t in the Top 20.
In how far were the “home” World Championships in Lahti a blessing but also a curse (in terms of a lot of pressure) for you?
Hirvonen: The World Championships in Lahti were something amazing and it was great opportunity. But yeah, there were also a lot of pressure. After the good start into the season, many expected me to fight for a medal and that wasn’t exactly an easy situation to compete in my first World Championships in front of a home crowd. Maybe the pressure was one of the reasons that I didn’t do it so well.
Nevertheless, Lahti was great experience and the atmosphere was something I won’t forget. The results were not what we wanted to but I can still be happy with my ninth place in first individual competition.
Looking on the really bright side of things: you achieved your first-ever podium result at the World Cup Lahti in January. How important was it to you to reach this milestone?
Hirvonen: The podium finish in Lahti really was the highlight of my season. It was important to see that when everything goes well I can fight for those places. Of course I was pretty close of podium also in some other competitions but it’s still different to finish on podium than just be close to it.
What can we expect from Eero Hirvonen in the future?
Hirvonen: I want to keep developing as an athlete and that also means better results. I am still pretty young and there are a lot of things where I can be much better. There is no easy way to reach the top and those steps are now more difficult to take. The Olympics are a big goal for everyone next winter and I want to be fighting for medals in the individual competitions. Also in the team competition, our goal is a medal.
How did you relax after an intense season like the past one?
Hirvonen: After the long season I just relaxed and tried to forget Nordic Combined for a while. Right after Schonach, we left with Arttu and Ilkka for a vacation in Malaysia and Thailand. After few weeks there, I had a little time in Finland before the start of my military service. On those weeks I just tried to get rest and have fun. Actually it feels like that “holiday time” was pretty long time ago (laughs), because in the last weeks I have had my hands full with my military service and training.
As you mentioned, summer training is back in full swing. Can you give a little bit of a recap of what the Finnish team has been up to since the training started again?
Hirvonen: We have had two training camps already. The first camp was still skiing on snow in Northern Finland. The second camp took place in Jyväskylä, my home town, and main point of the camp was testing and first summer jumps. But so far, we have mostly been training alone, each in their own way. In the coming months we will spend most of the time in training camps. At this moment, we are developing our jumping in Planica.