Last season, every sport group in the ski association exceeded its budget by leaps and bounds. According to sport director Mika Kojonkoski, the alternative would have been to skip the competition season.
A person belonging to the skiing association’s inner circle told Urheilu more than a week ago that the result of the association’s fiscal year, which ends at the end of October, will fall by 500,000–600,000 euros, according to current estimates.
The president of the union Markku Haapasalmi did not want to comment on the assessment in question, but he was happy to comment on an event that caused great losses to the Ski Association. According to Haapasalmi, the international stadium sprint of Helsinki Ski Weeks, which failed miserably in terms of public sales, caused losses of around 200,000 euros in one single evening, last March 22.
From a stone foot to a clay foot
Helsinki Ski Weeks, organized twice, turned out to be a foundation of clay for the association instead of a stone foundation for a new economy. If Helsinki Ski Weeks continues at all, it will be a much smaller event far from Helsinki and the expensive Olympic Stadium.
Haapasalmi and executive director of the Ski Association Ismo Hämäläinen have not wanted to publicly evaluate the financial statements, which are completed at the end of an exceptionally long 17-month financial period. Haapasalmi justifies the matter by saying that the numbers live all the time.
Working as the director of ski jumping and combined sports in the ski association Mika Kojonkoski broke the veil of secrecy for Urheilu. The Ski Federation is currently going through a drastic savings program, the goal of which is to achieve savings of 350,000–400,000 euros, for example by laying off staff and saving on national team activities.
Kojonkoski admits that part of the negative readings can be explained by the fact that the federation’s sport groups, i.e. ski jumping, cross-country skiing and combined, have not been able to operate within the framework of the budgets given to them last season.
– Each sport group has drawn around 100,000 euros. That’s what I’ve been told. I haven’t received the latest economic figures recently.
According to Chairman Haapasalmi, the figures in question “cannot be confirmed”.
Kojonkoski said that last November, just before the competition season, the sport groups under his responsibility were presented with savings demands, the timing of which the sport director thought was completely unreasonable.
– When at that point the reduction requirements of around 50,000 euros are put into the budget, it is actually only possible to reach them by reducing competition activities. Compared to cross-country skiing, we don’t have the kind of budgets that could otherwise be cut.
United’s head coach Antti Kuisma told Urheilu that the last competition season was finally pulled through with an operating budget of a generous 200,000 euros, which meant a really accurate use of money.
In the future, the fiscal year of the ski association will be from November 1 to 31. October, in order to better know how much money is available when preparing the next season’s budget. Previously, the accounting period ended at the end of May. The national teams of the federation’s sports do not yet know their exact operating budget for next season.
Antti Kuisma tells what kind of things can be found behind budget overruns. The level of consumption has risen significantly since the winter of 2022 and the start of the war in Ukraine.
– I admit that I am not fully informed about how all the budget-related things are going in the union. But if, for example, I budgeted for one plane ticket Helsinki–Munich–Helsinki to cost an average of 500 euros, the actual cost was 700 euros. In the winter, when we sometimes had to move at short notice for reasons beyond our control, they cost much more, says Kuisma.
In the future, the team will not fly back and forth if, for example, they compete in Central Europe four weekends in a row.
– Then we’ll stay there to train. And you don’t live in hotels, but in affordable apartments with your own catering.
According to Kojonkoski, the finger of blame for the current situation of the Ski Federation should not be pointed primarily in the direction of coaches and athletes.
– The reasons are completely different.