Head coach of Team Unique, winner of the 2013 Senior World Championships… At the beginning of the season, Mirjami Penttinen talks about her job in Finland.
How did you become a coach?
Mirjami Penttinen: I was skating in the Rockettes in Finland when our coach moved to France and so our club was looking for new recruits for the coaching team. I can’t really remember how I ended up becoming part of the coaching team, but it was mainly because I was eager to coach and probably partly because there was a shortage of coaches in the club. To tell you the truth, I always felt that coaching wasn’t a “proper job”, not challenging enough for me and that I would never end up coaching. It couldn’t have been further from the truth – this is my dream job and I have been lucky enough to have been doing it for 21 years already.
What sort of qualifications do you have?
I studied at Helsinki School of Economics and have a Professional Coaching qualification from Vierumäki.
How has your own skating background helped you as a coach?
I’d say that I’m definitely better at understanding elements and what they feel like than a coach who has never skated synchro. Though I must admit that the sport is evolving at such a fast pace that I’m not sure if my synchro background is of any use anymore.
What are your basic principles in coaching?
I believe that skaters should learn to take responsibility for themselves and as a team. I believe in openness and that the best results are reached when everyone on the team is free to be oneself. Physically we work hard to achieve physiologically the most optimal skating position – this way we have been able to eliminate injuries caused by strain. I also believe that if you want to be respected as an athlete you should live like an athlete. Body fitness, skating skills, and the mind should all be in balance.
How do you know how to choose the right skaters for the team?
The biggest advantage is having a big club. This means I can mostly choose the new skaters from our own junior team. They are generally skaters I’ve coached since they were kids, so I know their strengths and how to best coach them. When skaters apply from outside our club, I usually like to talk to their previous coach to find out where we stand so that I can make the right decision.
Translation: Anna Ylöstalo