The construction of Finland’s second best-known sports building began about 50 years ago. The finished came in the spring and winter of 1972 when costs escaped. Downhill jumper legend Pentti Kokkonen tells what it was like to jump from Lahen concrete.
“Uimalan the bottom is, in a way, a great cornerstone for the whole sports and leisure center. At the same time, its curved bottom forms a mound of a large hill, which does not disappoint, even if a bigger jumper falls. ”
This is how Helsingin Sanomat wrote on October 31, 1970, when the construction of the second most famous sports building in Finland, Lahti’s big hill, Lahti’s concrete, after Lahti, finally began to loom. Plans had already been made in 1967, and it was believed that the finished one would come in 1970.
Even before the concrete was poured into the area, large amounts of land had been removed from the area in order to obtain sufficient depth and length for the descent slope of the hill. There used to be a smaller jumping hill, completed in 1947 – this was not a legendary wooden hill located on another slope.
Although already at that time, in the fall of 1970, there was talk of a swimming pool bottom, the inland swimming pool was finally completed a good year after the great hill in 1973.
“In the future, a dream center will follow, which no other city in Finland can dare to dream of.”
Self the start of construction of the hill was delayed as the cost estimate swelled like the best bun dough. According to the 1967 plans, the hill was to be completed for FIM 1.5 million (approximately EUR 2.5 million in current money), but in the end the price tag became FIM 4.7 million (EUR 6.1 million). New additional funding was constantly needed. Even in sports-friendly Lahti, it was too much for many.
“Looking at the huge concrete pedestals for a moment, the athlete is ready to sacrifice the idea for those Lahti taxpayers who bitterly compare this nearly FIM 6 million ski jump to a monument to the Egyptian pharaohs,” HS wrote on August 1, 1971, while the concrete pillars of the flywheel were in place.
Thus, the price was not nearly FIM 6 million in the end, but it was more than three times the original estimate. In addition, it was only a kick-off for the construction of the entire sports center. Everything was never realized, as the table had, among other things, a speed skating rink with almost 20,000 spectators – the dreams were the Winter Olympics.
“In the future, there will be a dream center that no other city in Finland can dare to dream of,” HS wrote on March 3, 1972.
The final stage of the construction of Suurmäki was a kind of long-lasting public attraction: the speed hill was slowly slated for several days towards the top of the concrete pillar. Finish came in February 1972, and someone or some must have secretly jumped up the hill before the official first practice jumps, as there were traces of downhill skis on the descent slope. The drills were on February 23, 1972. The most far jumped Heino Tamminen, 111 meters.
“The women in the party wore blue wool hats and blue wool scarves as well as warm red butts. The presidential beanies were green. ”
Official the opening was scheduled for March 5, 1972 in connection with the Salpausselä Games. The audience was full of spectators and slopes, as well as special guests of the President of the Republic Urho Kekkonen and the President of Iceland, who was on a state visit Kristján Eldjárn spouse Halldora Eldjárnin with.
“The women in the party wore blue wool hats and blue wool scarves as well as warm red butts. The presidential beanies were green. The benches of the guests of honor had electric pillows and blankets, additional blankets were distributed as needed, ”HS wrote on March 6, 1972.
The opening didn’t go nearly according to the script. First, the mayor of Lahti Teemu Hiltunen in his welcome speech defended the construction of the hill despite harsh criticism.
“However, the message didn’t get there because of the speaker failure,” HS wrote.
HS further stated that Hiltunen’s speech was long. After that, President Kekkonen inaugurated Suurmäki, and the opening bill was made by the Lahti Ski Club. Seppo Leivo. Nothing was heard from Kekkonen’s inaugural speech either. The reason was both the continuing speaker problems and the hustle and bustle from the adjacent guest auditorium.
The opening race was eventually moved to an old tree hill, with plenty of crowds leaving angrily.
Also the opening race became a pancake as it was suspended during the first round. The reason was the same as several times in the coming years: too strong a wind.
In the original design phase of the hill in 1967, it had been suggested that the grand hill be placed on a less windy south slope, then a sledding slope, but it didn’t end up for the city management: the hill would not have been as spectacular when reaching the sports center from the center.
The opening competition was eventually moved to an old wooden hill, a lot of the audience left angrily and the presidential party also had to hurry elsewhere: Asko oy handed over to the presidential couple a Ball Chair designed in Icelandic colors.
Sure Numerous competitions have also been jumped off the hill, of which the biggest moments in Finnish have been Tapio Räisänen World Championship gold in 1978 (the race moved to Monday due to wind problems) and Jari Puikkonen World Cup gold in 1989. The hill has been used for more than just jumping, as sponsored by energy drink giant Red Bull uphill running, where the hill run is run all the way to the jump tower.
Suurmäki has been renovated especially before the World Championships in accordance with the requirements of the International Ski Federation. The last renovation was in 2015. With the reforms, the lengths of the jumps have also increased by twenty meters.
Already in the 1970s, a normal hill (K90) and a small hill (K64) were built next to Suurmäki. In the original drawings, even the smaller hills were concrete, but in the end they were implemented as steel truss structures.
Pentti Kokkonen knows concrete in many ways
What kind from the hill to jump and especially from the original Laen concrete? The legend of the mountain jumper can answer that Pentti Kokkonen, who was the best mountain man in the world in the period 1978–1979 and won, among other things, Central European Hill Week.
“The hill was very demanding in my time. If the effort was unsuccessful and the length of the jump was less than 90 meters, the feeling was as if it had dropped steadily: the steep part of the descent began at 90 meters. When the effort was successful, it was awesome to control the flight and come beautifully steep down. My longest jump seems to be 114 meters, ”says Kokkonen.
“The jumper’s bow was really high and the initial flight flew high, which was normal at the time.”
Kokkonen has been in contact with the big hill in Lahti for practically the entire history of the hill. He made his first jumps in concrete in 1974 at the Paavo Nuotio Memorial Competition.
“The momentum was taken from as high as possible. An additional platform was built up the tower, from which there was a direct trail to the flywheel. It felt like I was on top of three inverted beer baskets putting my skis on my feet. Nothing has been remembered about the jumps, so I guess nothing bad had happened then, ”Kokkonen recalls in an e-mail.
Kokkonen moved to Lahti in 1975 and also worked as a hill repairman during the winter.
“It was an honor for the jumper to be able to lower the trails down the hill first. Usually that season became successful for the jumper, it was a sign of the jumper’s good self-confidence. ”
Kokkonen’s jumping career includes a victory in the Salpausselä competition. It came at his peak and overwhelmingly: in the jumping race on March 4, 1979, he was second to Yugoslavia. Bogdan Norčičiin accumulated 30 points.
The jumping career also ended in the big hill race in Salpausselä. The year was 1986.
“Those were World Cup races, and I finished 13th. It was good to finish there.”
Jumping career Even after that, the big hill in Lahti has been a familiar place for Kokkonen, who, among other things, served as the assistant coach of the Finnish hill jumping national team, when the Finnish team won the World Championship gold in the Lahti World Championships in 1989.
“I was the head coach then Kari Ylianttilan as an assistant coach in the old judging tower filming jumps. From there I saw and heard this huge mass of people, ”Kokkonen recalls the human sea of at least 80,000 spectators.
And the big hill is still no stranger to Kokkonen. Kokkonen, 65, is active in the Lahti Ski Club and is also the chairman of the Red Shirts of the LHS Association of Former Ski Jumpers. One task is also related to the big hill.
“In the summer of 1998, the concrete was put into summer use and plasticized. The plasticization of the descent was handled by the hill division of the Lahti Ski Club. This cooperation with the city has continued to this day, when in the spring the plastics have to be taken out of the way of the underground swimming pool and in the autumn again put back. This has supported the activities of LHS’s Hill and Combined Division very well, ”says Kokkonen.
Sources: Lahti Ski Museum and HS archive.
Lahti Grand Hill
■ The concrete of Lahti, or the large hill in Lahti, is currently the hill of K116 meters, HS130. Originally completed as a 90-meter hill.
■ Suurmäki was designed by architect Ole Gottleben and the architectural firm Sulo Järvinen and Erik Liljeblad. Pertti Piirta worked as the chief designer of the structures on the Lahti hill.
■ The height of the rear pillar is 73 meters. The height of the entire tower is 212 meters above sea level.
■ Awarded as a 1971 concrete structure.
■ The plastic and porcelain track was completed in 1998.
■ The official hill record of 138 meters has been jumped by Johann André Forfang in 2017.