Interview: Oskari Vihervaara, Finland
16 Jan 2010 at 10:21 | Published by: JJM | Views: 7982 | News search
Oskari Vihervaara at World Championships in Odense, Denmark. (Photo by Erik Tiekstra 2009)
Pasi Aho interviews the 2009 shooting star of the Finnish minigolf scene, Oskari Vihervaara for the Finnish Federation’s website.
(Translated into English by Pasi Aho, from the original Finnish version.)
Osku, tell me something about you outside the minigolf courses and underneath the surface. Almost everyone knows your name, but what comes behind it?
There is a full-time homeboy. I am a 17-year-old from Tampere, studying on the second class of Messukylä high school. I like good food, cooking it and minigolf!
What are your hobbies beside minigolf?
Mainly concentrating on graphics. Do play football and icehockey for fun.
The beginning of your minigolf career is not so far back, you should still remember how it all began.
1999 we moved to Pyynikki. About 200 metres from the courses at Koulukatu (EC 2008 courses). Back then I used to play pretty much in the summertime, alone or with Jarski (Jari Vähäaho, local club member). 2002 I wanted to join Manse RG when I got to know about the indoor course in Rahola. I think the first official competition was 2004 Koulukatu Open in Tampere or maybe a indoor comp in Rahola. My first Finnish Championships was as recently as 2007 in Pietarsaari.
We met for the first time in Budapest at YWC 2008. The first impression is always decisive. Who would you believe was more shocked?
Me. Because I thought I had met you on Åland –04 or –05. It was Pasi Tapanainen but I thought it was you. I was shocked how much you had changed before the truth came out.
Now it feels like we’d been travelling together for an eternity. Maybe it feels like an eternity to you too… Let’s talk about the 2009 season piece by piece. The first signs of your potential were seen on day 1 of the Nordic Champs. Later last summer you were on top of the result lists in almost all competitions. Where do you see the reasons for this development?
Well, we do disagree on some things sometimes. On the other hand, sometimes we live in sweet harmony, right? My analysis about success includes something happening in my head, training like a maniac and gaining more self-confidence. Practice much, get more self-confidence and the success will come to you. At the moment when you can turn the excitement and pressure to a positive factor, the doors are wide open to anywhere.
The inner circles say that you had a rather big role in the victory of Manse RG at Finnish Concrete Championships (ECup qualifier). How can a 16-year-old (back then) be the mental leader of a team? Or am I missing something crucial here?
I may have done the most work in organizing balls and the team, but Jari Kinnunen was definitely the mental leader. When Jari is in the team, each and every guy knows that it’s no time for jokes. Did I with my work and motivation created motivation and positive energy for the rest of the team? Only my teammates can tell that.
After a strong midsummer your performance at YEC was not satisfying. Did you simply have too high expectations or was it something else? Maybe you didn’t learn the courses well enough during the training, for example?
You just can’t always play on your own level. It was not fun to play that bad, but everyone has his bad days. Except Kosti in Rahola... Sometimes you can fix it quickly, sometimes not. Pekka Peltola always says how the metabolism basically “deletes” one’s brain from emotions in 30 seconds. You can let the bad feelings go then or keep them there for days. Maybe I just kept them for days in Waldshut.
Was it after the modest YEC easy or difficult to go to your first championship in general class? I can imagine it each way. All the pressure is gone or it is even higher than before.
Difficult. It was a tough week, at that point the life was so full of minigolf that it was coming out of my ears. Then add the bad competition in Waldshut to that, lacking self-confidence – no need to mention that.
The season finisher in Vaduz was a nice one. I noticed while coaching there that even though you play on high level, you still have plenty to learn about playing concrete. In which area of minigolf you think you still have most to learn?
There is so much to improve in every area that I won’t mention any single thing. I have the will to learn. By thinking and questioning things you’ll learn most.
Maybe it is trivial to ask which achievement in your career you appreciate most, but I’ll ask anyway.
Perhaps it is the triple gold at Concrete Championships (youth, total category, team). I worked so hard for it and it was my first big title. Of course, the games in Odense left deep memories in me. Hard to say, the cases are so different. I appreciate both highly.
Which was the worst moment until now?
The second day at Nordics. A disaster, recovering took a long time. The long time was those 30 seconds I mentioned earlier!
Which one will be the player of the year 2009 in Finland, you or Kosti?
Let the people decide!
Do you have idols in life or on the minigolf course?
Juuso (Puolakkainen) was my idol in minigolf few years back. It was also kind of my goal to get to the same level with him. I also admire Jari Kinnunen, Kosti Salonen and many others. You also have to admire the positive attitude of Marko Nuotio: “F**k, this is never going in!”.
You are well known as a player with only two gears – on and off. Tears of joy were falling in Odense and the coaches must work hard to keep the referees off you during the competition. Do you have something like a philosophy when you play or is it guidance by heart? Do you want to reveal us how you reach that kind of feeling when you go out to the course?
Full speed, emotions, loud and rock on! Practice is for practising, competition is for playing.
On the other hand I have got the picture that you could easily live without minigolf too. Which I for example can’t say about myself. Where will your road lead to in near future – in minigolf and life?
Every now and then you just have to take a break. For example now (in December when writing) I have a two-month break behind me. Time will show regarding minigolf, but surely I’ll keep on playing. In life I want to graduate from high school and work as cook in a restaurant in the future.
Final question. What did Harald say to you during that big hug after your match in Odense?
I am not sure but I think something like ”you have nothing to be shamed about, you have a great future in minigolf little man”.
Thanks Osku for this very open interview, see you soon!» original Finnish version of the interview