Tero Seppälä opens up about his difficult relationship with the Norwegian head coach – “Many things have to change” | Sport

Tero Seppala grabbed Finlands best ranking of the season –

will show the Rovaniemi Suomen Cup this weekend. See live broadcast information at this link.

When Finland’s best biathlete in recent years Tero Seppälä28, announced last spring that he would be out of the A national team for the training season, he emphasized to Urheilu that the matter was agreed in good spirit and the head coach By Erik Bartlett Kulstad that of the president of the union Kalle Lähdesmäki with.

Kulstad required full commitment to the national team’s training program, and there was no such thing as a Russian coach in Kontiolahti Anatoly Hovantsev available from Seppälä, who trains in the group.

– Certainly the head coach would have wanted me in the group for the summer, but when we talked things through, I got the impression that he understood the background of my decision. They were mainly related to the fact that high-level training was not available as I had hoped, Seppälä told Urheilu on Tuesday.

According to Seppälä, the reason was that the World Cup was held in low air. Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic is located approximately 600 meters above sea level.

– But the World Cup was very much contested in the high atmosphere. I think the World Cup is also very important, not just the World Cup, comments the athlete, who will end his competition season at the cross-country Finnish Cup in Rovaniemi on the weekend.

Very difficult start

In the summer, Seppälä, who also trained with, among others, French athletes and for a short while also with the Finnish A national team, considered his training season a success, but the beginning of the competition season was very difficult.

In the background, we found typical health and stress issues in top endurance sports. The opening of the World Cup in Östersund produced 37th, 48th and 52nd positions in the individual competitions. Seppälä wondered if he would still try out for the next Cup stop in Hochfilzen.

– However, it was a condition from the coaching management that you would have to compete in the entire Cup program before Christmas or go home to train. In that situation, I decided to start training.

Seppälä returned to the World Cup after the New Year in Oberhof with weak results, which were greatly affected by the symptoms of a recent corona infection. For the World Championships, which started on February 18, he applied for performance from the lower level than the World Cup, i.e. the IBU Cup competitions and the European Championships.

In the World Cup sprint he was the best Finnish man in 31st place, in the pursuit (49th) Otto Invenius was 15 places higher.

But it was only a normal distance of 20 kilometers that made Finnish biathlon fans think about what Seppälä’s relationship with the head coach of the national team, who was ranked fifth in the top 20 at the spring World Cups following the World Cup, is actually like. Seppälä’s 36th place was the best of the Finns in the World Championship normal race, but it was emphasized by certain border conditions that were unpleasant for the athlete.

Had to grind

To the surprise of many, Kulstad placed Seppälä last, i.e. fourth, Nove Mesto in the weakest starting group in light snow and wet conditions. He had to ski very slowly on a ground track.

The decision was interpreted as the head coach’s wink at Seppälä, because based on the competition results, only Invenius seemed to deserve a better starting place than Seppälä, who at best placed in the top 10 in both the Olympic and World Championships.

Seppälä now admits that the good performances seen after the World Cup were also “irritated”.

– Yes, it partially helped and motivated. It was already known before the games what the starting places were, and it was sad that everything was decided in advance and did not go more according to the situation. On a normal trip, the place was pretty unworkable in those conditions, even when we have that hundred men on the line.

Expressed his views

Seppälä says that he expressed his views to the head coach who defended his decisions in Nove Mesto, but that he did not want to be profiled as a boat rocker in the middle of the main event.

– I expressed my opinion, but when the team is in the middle, too much bickering would hurt the team spirit. I tried to do my own thing in the best way from those starting points, because there was no power over the starting points.

Head coach Kulstad tells Urheilu that the amount of high-altitude training in the national team will clearly increase in the next two summers, as the next two prestigious competitions will be organized by a high-altitude location: the World Championships 2025 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, and the 2026 Olympic Biathlon Championships in Anterselva, Italy.

Seppälä still hasn’t decided whether he wants to return to the strength of the A national team already for the training season.

“Must be based on results”

– I want to hear the plans, which things will change. Many things need to change on the union side. It can’t be that if I go to the A national team, it will somehow positively affect my treatment even in the winter. If, for example, a new young guy comes from outside the groups and gets into the race, then the treatment must be based on the results and not on which group he trained in.

Seppälä, who has very high goals for the next two seasons, has already planned his continuation with Hovantsev. He wants clarity on his situation with the A national team as soon as possible.

Reached from Oslo, Kulstad tells Urheilu that he has tentatively spoken with Seppälä about the upcoming training season.

– Things are not finished yet. In the next two training seasons, more will be invested in high-placed training.

Kulstad says that he understands Seppälä’s criticism regarding the fact that the activities of the A national team are too pre-locked and inflexible, up to the draw groups of prestigious competitions, and they don’t live in the moment, which is often important in elite sports.

– I don’t want to talk about these things publicly, but we will go through them among the team in due course. Of course, it is normal to critically evaluate what has been done and whether things need to be corrected. I can’t say the composition of the A national team, but of course I hope that it will be clear as soon as possible.