Concluding our series of questions and answers with the FIS Council Members, this week we feature an interview with Jaakko Holkeri.
Q. Finland can look back to a very successful 2006/07 season, especially in Cross-Country. What are the reasons for this newly-found strength?
A. The most important reason concerns the extremely talented athletes who are beginning to have a sufficient number of training years under their belt. The other factors are hard training and solid self-confidence both of which are also related to our new Head Coach Magnar Dalen. In addition, the team was able to stay healthy for the most part of last season and we were consistently very successful with our ski service.
Q. 2008 will be the 100th anniversary of the Finnish Ski Association. How will you celebrate?
A. The anniversary will be largely marked by our continuing work to benefit skiing but there are some plans for celebration, too. The main centennial party will be held at the Sibelius Hall in Lahti on 28th February, including a reception, evening concert and dinner. At the end of March, from 27th — 30th March to be precise, we will hold the Finnish National Championships for all our five disciplines (Alpine, Freestyle, Cross-Country, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined) at Ruka, Kuusamo. This is what we call the celebration of the sport. In mid-October, we will hold our biannual general assembly called SkiFinland 2008, or the celebration of the clubs. In addition, each discipline will host a large youth event as their celebration of the youth; this may be a competition or some other event such as a youth camp or similar. Of course, all our World Cup events will also celebrate the anniversary year in different ways, one of which will be the meeting of the FIS Council at Levi in conjunction with the FIS Alpine World Cup in November 2008. Finally, Finnish TV channel YLE is in the process of preparing a documentary on the history of Finnish skiing and the Finnish Ski Association.
Q. There are plans to build a ski flying hill in Finland. Why does it need one?
A. Finland has always been one of the leading Ski Jumping nations and wants to remain on the top. To be able to compete with the other leaders as well as to organize Ski Flying competitions, we need to have our own and the world’s most modern hill in Finland. The big audiences in Ski Jumping are especially fascinated by the big flights and that is another reason why Finland wants to lead further development in Ski Flying. We also believe that the climatic conditions in Lapland (a long and snow-secure winter) provide internationally-based support for our plan.