The sport of ski jumping lead Pekka Niemelae from
the far North in Finland all the way to the south.
Niemelae, head coach of the Finnish national ski
jumping until the end of last season, started a
new job as ski jumping head coach of the Turkish
Ski Federation and signed his contract on July 16th
“Technically speaking I'm head coach, but, as part
of my job, I will also have an advisory function
when it comes to the development of ski jumping,
the coaching system and establishing international
contacts", Niemelae said right after he started
his new job.
———— Back ground - Ski jumping in Turkey
Turkish athletes didn't appear on the big international
stage in ski jumping so far. But with the construction
of a big winter sports center in Erzurum, Turkey
set the course for winter sports. Erzurum is located
about 800 km east of Ankara, 1950 m above sea level
and with about 360 000 inhabitants it's the biggest
city in eastern Anatolia. 2010 a modern ski jumping
center consisting of five hills (K20, K40, K65,
K95, K125) was built in Erzurum. Continental Cup
events as well as the ski jumping competitions of
the FIS Junior WSC 2012 and the Universiade 2011
were already held at this venue.
"Millions of Euro were invested in the winter
sports facilities in Erzurum and they continue to
invest. Turkey is a member of the G20, a nation
with 80 million people and an important gate between
Europe and Asia", explains the Helsinki-born
"Unfortunately recently Erzurum ski jumping
stadium faced some unexpected challenges in jumping
hills outruns. Construction experts and Federation
etc. management will take a meeting in Erzurum in
these days and after the conclusion management will
inform press how situation will be solved in Erzurum.
I agree with mr. President that with the Team we
will not stop trainings, we will move to train now
to Finland and to Europe. Local development project
continue when the facilities in the hills are again
in order", the Finn said about the situation
there at the moment.*
* The facility in Erzurum was severely damaged by
a landslide on July 15th. So far no official statements
were made, we will report as soon as we have more
“It is an honor to work on this development project,
in which also the Turkish government, the Turkish
Ski Association and FIS are involved. We have to
take this project step by step. I consider improving
the physical and technical abilities of the A-Team
the top priority now. At the same time we have to
work intensively with the juniors. Daily trainings
are necessary. Besides coaching the A-Team, I will
also make the training plans for the younger athletes.
We already had some training sessions with the juniors.
It was a lot of fun to work with these young athletes."
"It's our dream to be successful some day"
"If we have some successful trainings behind
us and are on the right level, we will compete in
the COC to gain experiences there. I think that
we have a realistic chance to have Turkish ski jumpers
in the World Cup within the next two years. Then
the goal will be to get a quota for the World Championships
and, of course, get on a level good enough to compete
in the Olympics. These are two big steps. It's our
dream to be successful some day and we are starting
to work towards that goal now.
It will be an important part of the project to enthuse
young people for ski jumping, and we are working
on that intensively. There's a school only 50 m
from the ski jumping stadium and we hope to turn
that into a real ski jumping school. We get a lot
of support from many groups, including the Erzurum
University. But so far everything is just a vision,
we have to train very hard and well. I believe that
we will be successful. For example, last week a
14-year-old athlete with a promising technique improved
his personal best to 100 m on the K95. Little things
like this are also a positive sign for me. By the
way, the name of the athlete was Muhammed Ali.
Some of the athletes already scored FIS Cup points,
the next step has to be to get on a level good enough
to score points in the COC in order to be allowed
to compete in the World Cup and in the 4-Hills-Tournament.
If we can achieve that, it will give us the necessary
boost for the future.
"It's definitely a big challenge"
Of course it's a huge adjustment for me after working
in Finland, Japan and France. During this time as
a coach there I won 9 medals at World Championships
and Olympic Games. But now this development project
is extremely interesting. Somehow this project suits
me perfectly and it's an honor for me to work in
a country with such ambitious goals. I like challenges
and this project is definitely a big challenge",