Ismo Hämäläinen is brimming with enthusiasm. He started his work as the Executive Director of the Finnish Ski Association at the beginning of September, and he has huge expectations.
“I believe that we have extensive potential for growth and development – and I want to assist the work in any way I can.”
So, it’s no wonder that Hämäläinen, who was the director of the sports training centre of the Sport Institute of Finland in Vierumäki for the past six years, swears by business coaching. He says that a good leader assists their employees in finding their own strengths so that they can flourish, and so that teams will do their best even when the situation is difficult. Lifelong learning is the key, and Hämäläinen applies it to almost everything.
“Being able to learn yourself and assist others in learning is highly motivating. Good results are almost always reached through a learning process.”
Diehard sports man
Ismo Hämäläinen is a Master of Sport Sciences and has been working with sports in a variety of management, training, research, and development positions for almost twenty years. Hämäläinen has been a cross-country skiing coach for the Finnish and the German national team.
Hence, Hämäläinen knows that the world of top sports is above all a world of results: the sweat and tears of training become meaningless in an instant if you are unable to do your best while competing.
“For us, measuring the results of our work is pretty brutal. However, the Finnish Ski Association has invested in support for athletes and always tries to offer them motivation,” Hämäläinen says, and continues that one of his goals is being involved in building a functional support organization for top athletes.
Hämäläinen believes that vitality of sports clubs is a key when considering the future of snow sports. He says that there are two focus areas: the conditions and expertise, of which the former is more at risk.
“We need to have conditions that will retain snow sports vital and attractive also in the future,” he says.
It’s mostly a question of the attitude of schools towards skiing: how often will they take pupils to the skiing track if Finnish winters become more watery than snowy? Parents, who must pay for the skiing equipment of their children, will also complain if the brand-new skis are hardly used.
“Under these conditions, we must consider forms of cooperation to make the situation easier. We could establish ‘ski libraries’ from where you could affordably rent the equipment you need, for example.”
"We need to have conditions that will retain snow sports vital and attractive also in the future."
Snow under my skis, please!
The recently published strategy of the Finnish Ski Association highlights future winters as a key factor in securing the continuity of skiing sports.
“Particularly in southern Finland, the winters with little snow are already a clear problem in terms of skiing. If you dramatize it a bit, you could say that in Finland, the people are in the south but the snow is in the north,” Hämäläinen says.
“In Finland, we also have companies that manufacture skiing equipment, and the snow situation naturally influences their business as well.”
According to Hämäläinen, climate change is a serious challenge that we can only overcome if we all do something.
“Even small things can matter,” he points out.
The concern caused by climate change and thus the future of skiing under natural winter conditions is something that the Finnish Ski Association and Fennovoima have in common.
“We have a shared goal: we want to protect our Finnish winters. The core of our cooperation is that you cannot ski without snow.”
License to surprise
The new Executive Director still looks at the future with bright eyes and an optimistic mindset. He says that the current situation of cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, and ski jumping is good.
“We have a positive vibe – which, in turn, enables great surprises.”
The general public is interested in what the male and female cross-country skiing stars are doing, and a new generation is about to make a breakthrough. This work is assisted by the fact that the cross-country training team is stronger than ever.
“We have five cross-country skiing coaches, i.e. the largest training resources ever,” says the satisfied Hämäläinen.
Hämäläinen is confident about the Finnish world cup events in Ruka and Lahti: there is a lot of activity and a good atmosphere.
Cooperation of Fennovoima and the Finnish Ski Association
- Fennovoima is an official partner of the Finnish cross-country skiing A team and a named partner of the under 18-year-olds’ training team.
- The cooperation agreement period is 2 + 2 years.
Fennovoima is also a visible partner of the Ruka and Lahti Nordic World Ski Championships.
With this cooperation, Fennovoima wants to remind people of the connection between the prevention of climate change and emission-free nuclear energy.