Pictured from left to right are; Scott Smith, Mike Holland, Anne, Jim Grahek, Mark Kinney, Yana, Mark Konopacke, Chris Hastings, Tony, Matt Petri.
1982 I was asked to take some young skiers on a trip to Finland for the month of March. 10 days before leaving a letter was sent to the organizer of the first stop (No email or internet back then). The trip started with us landing in Helsinki to find out that no one was there to pick us up (Slow mail took 10 days to arrive). Made a phone call after a couple of hours waiting only to find out that Kouvola’s organizer was in Lathi for the big World Cup meet (crowd size 40,000). They sent 3 taxis to bring us to Lathi so we could watch the famous Lathi World Cup competition. We were treated extremely well everywhere we went in Finland. Like anywhere there is ski jumping, the people are warm and friendly. All the guys skied better in Finland than anytime during the winter here at home. The first meet in Kouvola was at night in the middle of the week on a K90. The field was large with the 4 best World Cup jumpers leading the pack along with many of Finland’s best, but Mark Konopacke flew into 5th place and Mike Holland 12th. None of our guys skied poorly. Next we went to Kuopio for anight meet (crowd size 20,000). Don’t remember any results from Kuopio. After Kuopio, we were on a bus to Kaustinen K60. The organizers flew Matti Nykanen in for this meet. Prize for 1st place was a Handmade Violin, Blue fox fur stole, and a trophy. Chris Hastings won Junior Class and a trophy & aTV (which did not work when he got home) while Konopacke was 6th in senior class. Onward to Rovaniemi and the Arctic Circle where they make first time visiting coaches drink reindeer blood laced with vodka. What a party!!! Another large field of world class jumpers with Konopacke placing 7th and Hastings 14th. Picture on the right is Konopacke flying over the trees. Our last stop was Kuusamo big K120. night I loosened the reins on the guys and let them stay out as late as they wanted. It seems that some thought keeping up drink for drink with the Finns would be easy. Ha! Guess that did not work out too good as one of them told me the next day that he did not feel good enough to ski. Told him that his way to Kuusamo was paid by the organizers, so he was going to ski no matter what. We all had a great time in Finland. Thanks for the terrific memories everyone because 58 years of my life is full of excitement, thrills, spills, love, & wonderful times due to this sport and the people involved as competitors, coaches, organizers, and spectators.
Story Project 2013