In May 2016 the major and city council of Kuopio decided to cancel the World Cup planned in 2017. Here you can read my open letter to the institution, which sadly along with many other articles and posts didn't help to have the people rethink their decision.
Dear City of Kuopio, dear major Petteri Paronen,
I am writing this open letter with the hope that you reconsider your plan to withdraw from organizing the Nordic Combined World Cup in Kuopio 2017. A decision of such magnitude shouldn't be made without thorough consideration by all parties involved – including e.g. Raimo Tamminen, chairman of the organising ski club Puijon Hiihtoseura, and Mika Kulmala, executive director of the Finnish Ski Association. Your three main arguments according to the publications of Savon Sanomat and YLE Urheilu are 1) the loss of organising the Ski Jumping World Cup next season and therefore the loss of the city's status as host of international competitions, 2) a "weak attractivity of the event itself" and 3) the lack of success of Finnish athletes in the sport. With the following lines I would like you to re-think your plan and take some arguments concerning the reasons given above into consideration that maybe haven't come to your mind yet. 1) Of course it is a loss, but Kuopio already didn't organise the Ski Jumping World Cup in 2002/03 and 2011/12. Nonetheless, the city returned to the FIS calendar in the consecutive years. Also, there are four international Ski Jumping competitions planned at the venue of Puijo this August and it's unlikely that these events will be cancelled at the FIS Congress in June. Furthermore, there are a lot of venues in the World Cup circus which successfully only organise Nordic Combined competitions, e.g. Seefeld (AUT), Schonach (GER), Chaux-Neuve (FRA) and Val di Fiemme (ITA). 2) The event is "unattractive" in the way that the date is in the middle of the week. Many people are working the day and the next, as well as pupils have to go to school and can't attend the competitions. The date in 2017 is planned for a weekend, even with two Individual Gundersen races instead of one. This raises the posibility of gaining a bigger audience as the competitions don't take place on work days, getting to and staying in the city is more easy for spectators from other parts of Finland and also for fans from abroad. In addition, the organisers around event director Jarkko Ruhanen are sealing deals concerning ticket sales and prices with many local companies – e.g. KalPa Hockey Oy and Kuopio RockCock – to make the event more attractive and available for the spectators-to-be. These efforts have been perceived and praised by the International Ski Federation's Race Director for Nordic Combined, Lasse Ottesen: "Puijo and Kuopio are for us an important part of Nordic Combined especially in Finland. [...] So for us it's very very good to be back in Kuopio since 15 years and we hope of course that we will be able to first of all have good events now [...] and hopefully we can keep Kuopio on the calendar for the years to come." 3) The statistics regarding Finnish success in the sport are clear and readable for everyone. But just during the latest season the ray of hope that has appeared in recent years began to stabilise: 20-year-old Ilkka Herola gained his first World Cup podium, won two Continental Cup races and finished the overall World Cup on rank 10 in front of renowned athletes like Haavard Klementsen, Magnus Moan (both NOR) and Bryan Fletcher (USA). And there are some more upcoming talents from Finland, e.g. Ilkka's brother Matti Herola and Henri Kavilo. The reason why I choose them in particular for my argumentation is that they all have something in common: all come from Siilinjärvi, a city located only 30 minutes by car north of Kuopio. Until an athlete get's as far as e.g. Ilkka is at the moment, a lot of time and work is put into his training and general wellbeing by parents, relatives, coaches, teachers and local sponsors. A World Cup on their home-turf at Puijo is THE CHANCE for all of these people to cheer their favourite athletes on, see the result of their efforts and of course for the competitors to show what they are able to achieve and with that say "Thank you" to their audience and long-time local supporters. So why take it from them?!
I think everyone involved in the decision tomorrow should try to find answers for these questions by Ilkka Herola:
"Which other sport or cultural event brings the same international visibility for Kuopio? Is there a better way to get international top sports to the area? Is there a chance to host events in both disciplines (Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined) in the future when the competitions leave the FIS calendar now? And last but not least is this the kind of politics that supports a wide range of leisure activities around Kuopio?"
Just like him I "understand that the organisation of a Ski Jumping World Cup is more profitable than of a Nordic Combined one, but the break in Ski Jumping should be used to make better improvements than ever."