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The position of the Joensuu region is strengthened as a world-class training center for biathlon

Biathlon coaching is being strengthened in the Joensuu region and a coaching center for the sport will be created with extensive cooperation between different players.

Biathlon conditions, coaching and international competition activities have been developed in the Joensuu region for decades. The most recent demonstration of the cooperation between the municipality of Kontiolahti, the city of Joensuu and the Finnish Biathlon Union is the application for the 2027 World Championships.

Next, the goal is to create the best possible conditions for the year-round operation of the sport and the athletes' daily training through the cooperation of several different operators. At the same time, athletes are supported with a so-called dual career, which means a balanced combination of goal-oriented sports and studies or other work. This whole includes the North-Karelia Biathlon Academy 2023 – From biathlon event and training center to a leading training center project.

—In the world, competition venues are also training centers, with a few exceptions, says Tomi-Pekka Riihivuori, a project specialist at the Sports College of Eastern Finland.

The project explores the current shortcomings and development needs as well as development opportunities. The roles of different operators are defined and clarified in the formation of the training center operation, so that it is easy for the athlete to move to the region to build his dual career. Camp sales, marketing and communication are also an essential part of the coaching center's operations.

The Joensuu region already currently offers good opportunities to combine the career of a top athlete with the rest of everyday life thanks to versatile study and training opportunities. Most of the adult biathlon athletes who represent Finland in international competitions live in the region.

Due to the increased number of athletes, the current coaching resource of the Joensuu Sports Academy is not sufficient to meet the coaching need. Some of the athletes also want to maintain contact between camps with the same coach they deal with in the association's groups, says Riihivuori.

Furthermore, the project will test a remote coaching service and map out other digital solutions that can be applied in other sports as well.

—From the point of view of biathlon, the long-term theme of strengthening and developing coaching activities is long-term. The Biathlon Union wants to support the dual career of athletes and it is important that we reach a new level in coaching in the Joensuu region with this project. Digitization is also penetrating the coaching of elite sports, and the research and implementation of digital solutions is also at the center of the project, says Jarkko Kauppinen, sport manager of the Finnish Biathlon Union.

Participating in the collaboration are the Finnish Biathlon Union, the Eastern Finland Sports Academy, the Joensuu Sports Academy, the City of Joensuu, the Municipality of Kontiolahti, the Kontiolahti Athletes and the Provincial Association of Northern Karelia.

In practice, the whole project consists of two parts: the coaching center project implemented by the Eastern Finland Sports College and financed by the North Karelia Provincial Association, and the development of coaching activities, which will strengthen both biathlon coaching in the Joensuu region and the activities of the sports academy.

—The Kontiolahti Biathlon Stadium area has been systematically developed for years. This is yet another great development step, with which the infrastructure can be used even better year-round and in an even wider range of training activities. The concentrated and increasing coaching resources are also able to make better use of the region's strengths, says Kontiolahti Athletes' chairman Kimmo Turunen.