The Finnish national biathlon team is currently practising hard for the coming season. The snow has yet to fall in the forests of Kontiolahti, and so they are temporarily using roller skis; yet they are still training hard, in terms of both intense physical activity and the mental aspects of competition. »
“In the biathlon, the differences between top athletes are most typically physical ones. That’s why we do some quite brutal physical training, both on skis and running. The more experienced the athlete, the more competitive their training,” says head coach Jonne Kähkönen.
Trying to reach the top in sport and the world of business have a lot in common. Not so much on the raw physical side, but rather in being extremely organised and having clear goals.
“Top performers typically seek an optimal performance with ambition and determination. They analyse both their own efforts and the competitive field, looking for strengths and weaknesses. A top performer in any industry will seek to improve by finding areas for development in what they do, and will also know how to use their strengths to achieve success,” says Kähkönen.
And in a busy workplace, being organised is definitely beneficial for everyone. Having your own daily ‘training programme’ can give you a bit of a push with your routines and help you get things done.
“You can easily improve the efficiency of both your day and your work by prioritising things – you don’t have to do everything at once or in one day, even though it often feels that way,” says Kähkönen, combining work and training perspectives.
A good result creates greater motivation
Reaching the top in any area requires hard work and perseverance. Which is why it’s important for an athlete to be properly motivated. You rarely need to seek motivation when you’re on a national team. Just ask the athletes.
“Top athletes have inborn motivation, although it awakens slightly differently for different people, and for different things,” says biathlete Mari Eder.
“The idea that training and competing will produce good results is the greatest motivation for going jogging in any weather,” agrees Kaisa Mäkäräinen, who is maybe the team’s greatest star.
Tero Seppälä, the biggest promise in the men’s team, is of the same mind.
“I get motivated when I notice how my daily training yields results in competitions. I get faster and my shots get more accurate.”
The biathlon is a sport that requires equipment, the most important of which is probably the gun. Even a skier with incredible endurance won’t be successful if they are not a good shot.The biathlon’s finesse is encapsulated in every shot.
“You have to find a suitable round for your gun for every season. It has to work both at around zero degrees celsius and in really cold conditions,” says Mäkäräinen.
“I make changes to my gun every year. For example, the bolt mechanism has been fine-tuned to the max, so that freezing temperatures won’t cause loading problems or any other nasty surprises,” adds Seppälä.
A professional athlete’s day is both regular and meticulous. Otherwise you can’t recover from the strain, and your next performance won’t hit the mark. The importance of sleep is highlighted by many of the athletes.
“If you decide to stay up until four in the morning, you’ll be in rather bad shape to go training at eight. And you won’t get the required benefit from that training either,” says Mäkäräinen.
Patria continues to sponsor the Finnish Biathlon Association in the 2019–20 and 20-2021 seasons. This makes Patria one of the main sponsorship partners of the men’s and women’s national biathlon teams.