Niko Puumalainen’s passion is frisbee golf. He recently got a contract with a professional stable.
The Myllymäki track has become familiar to Niko Puumalainen. He rotates it about 200 times a year.
Niko Puumalainen walks along a small sandy path towards the forest. He deviates from the track with sure steps and sets off to climb a rocky shortcut to the top of the hill.
This is not just a 16-year-old young person using shortcuts, but the sure steps belong to a young person practicing frisbee golf.
The trip takes place on the ordinary frisbee golf course, where Puumalainen practices 200 times a year.
Myllymäen disc golf course is located in Lappeenranta, about half a mile away from home Puumalaisen.
Niko Puumalainen is a 16-year-old frisbee golfer who signed a player contract for next season.
The local sports venue was important.
On the ridge of the hill, the young man lowers the backpack from his back. There are thirty discs in the bag. He takes one of the discs in his hand and starts drying it with a towel.
The Myllymäki frisbee golf course was opened in 2013. At that time, Puumalainen also discovered the technique.
– For the first time, my big brother and I got a puck from my dad’s friend. The spark struck immediately. It was so relaxed, says Niko Puumalainen.
Gradually, Puumalainen found himself spending time on the track for an hour, up to seven times a week. Puumalainen’s rhythm accelerates when he is excited to tell how the species’ enthusiasm arose right the first time.
Previously, Puumalainen played football. However, it was allowed to give way to a new hobby.
– I stopped playing football because the ingots had to be precisely four o’clock. I wouldn’t say I liked it at all because there were so many school chores.
Relaxation and freedom were the ultimate reasons that set fire to the species. Now Puumalainen can decide for himself how and how much he trains.
– Now I can decide whether to do the school chores first and then train or vice versa. It was from the freedom that that spark ignited.
Niko Puumalainen mentions his strengths in frisbee golf as technique and versatile practice, including running loops and gym and throwing exercises.
Agreement with a professional garage
Puumalainen has dried his frisbee and put it on the fly. The flight towards the training basket goes to Huti. It is too windy, and your fingers are frozen without gloves.
Now, however, the thousands of hours of the game spent on the frisbee golf course have borne fruit. After last summer’s Finnish Championships, it became clear to Puumalainen that the professional Frisbee golf team was interested in him.
– My player-coach Janne Hirsimäki put a message to the professional stable to see if they would be interested in me. Then I was contacted by the Yankees and received such a fair offer that it could not be refused.
Puumalainen signed a player agreement for next season with puck manufacturer Westside Discs. He received a sponsorship deal for frisbee discs from three puck manufacturers. The comprehensive understanding was precisely the reason why Puumalainen accepted the agreement.
The offer included, among other things, a wide selection of discs and an equipment advantage. Attaching to a professional stable is a big deal for a 16-year-old.
– The offer was one I would have been willing to do my best for. The benefits were so good that I ended up in their stable.
To play in the royal class at the age of 16
This summer’s frisbee golf season was short because of the corona. Despite the stump season, 16-year-old Niko Puumalainen did well in the men’s series.
– This summer was a success.
Frisbee’s royal class and highest league level are MPO, or mix pro open. Puumalainen played in the MPO last season.
– Promoting the highest series was a long-term dream to get out of the amateur series.
The series levels are internationally consistent. Puumalainen also wants international tracks.
– I will start playing international games as soon as Korona relieves me. Last summer, I received an invitation from the Yankees from the Nationwide Frisbee Golf Federation to play in the Juniors World Championship. Still, the coronation situation was so bad that I couldn’t make it.
Currently, Puumalainen is among the 50 best male players in Finland. Junior classes are no longer interested in Puma, but he wants to play in the men’s category because he feels he develops better as a player.
There are a total of 800 frisbee golf courses in Finland, which is more than in any other country about the population.
100 kilometers per hour
Niko Puumalainen’s strengths as a frisbee golfer are good technique and versatile training. Her workout program includes three gym workouts and three endurance workouts a week.
– I have a strong desire to train in everything possible and versatile. And then apply those skills. It makes me a strong player.
There is a field near the Puumainen home in Lappeenranta, where he practices throwing. Also, he has built an 8-lane track for the cottage, where you can practice water obstacles and other sport challenges.
The longest throw Puumalainen threw last summer after the race on flat terrain. The throw was 156 meters long. The hourly speed on the disc is about 100 kilometers per hour.
Road fluids can also be reached
Niko Puumalainen believes that you can support yourself by playing frisbee golf.
– Yes, you can earn it if you are among the best players. It does not become rich, but it does live on.
Puumalainen considers the ease of starting frisbee golf to be its best part. Frisbee golf can be created by buying one reel, which costs about ten euros.
– On the other hand, you can spend as much money as you want. Some bages cost 200 euros. There are rare wafers and different grades of plastic that cost.
Determined but modest, Puumalainen describes that he wants to start among the best players in Finland. The goal is not to be the best player in the world right away.
– Yes, I am the first to be among the best in Finland. I have not so much thought that the goal would be to be the best player in Europe. First, I try to become one of the best players in Finland. Then I can look at the next goal.
The Frisbee Golf Association has doubled the number of enthusiasts of the sport during the Korona era.
Niko Puumalainen from Lappeenranta is a determined young person. She is studying for a double degree alongside a professional internship.
Young people splashing at the top of frisbee golf
According to Ari Penttila, President of the Frisbee Golf Association, it is exceptional, but not unusual, for such a young person to play at this level.
– It is by no means unusual for such a young player to succeed. In recent years, Finnish champions have been under 20 years old.
Penttila describes the superiority of young people with the development of technology.
– Frisbee golf is a young sport, and in recent years the technology has developed at a tremendous pace. These young people have immediately entered the new technology. Penttila describes it with the certainty brought by experience alone.
According to Penttila, a few dozen players in Finland, like Niko Puumalainen, have a player contract. He says that still playing frisbee golf alone does not earn a living in Finland.
– However, gaming is not a full-time job for anyone in Finland. The prize money is not huge. The most significant prize money is five tons.
Finland’s best frisbee golfers visit the United States for two to three months a year.
– They don’t go there for the money. They go there because of experience and big competitions to develop as players, says Ari Penttila, President of the Frisbee Golf Association.
There are thirty-ten frisbee discs in the Frisbee golf backpack from Puumainen.
Dreams are more than just a frisbee golf professional
Besides practicing frisbee golf like a professional player, Niko Puumalainen is also studying for a double degree. The days are filled with high school studies and undergraduate studies in information and communication technology.
Combining school and professional sports has not always been easy. Puumalainen says that the early autumn was tight.
Due to the corona situation, the early summer races were canceled in frisbee golf like many other sports. The season went through quickly during the late summer and early fall.
Puumalainen summarized his school week to four days a week. From Monday to Thursday, school work went into the evening, after which he went to the ingots.
– Fridays were free, and then we went on race trips all over Finland. We came home on Sunday. It was rough.
Although I hope to have a career as a professional player, Puumalainen still intends to invest in studying at university in the future. She has dreamed of working in cybersecurity since she was a child.
How does he have time to do everything, practice a professional career, and study in two disciplines?
– Frisbee golf is my passion. I am ready to invest more time. After school, there is still a soul fire to get to train. If the soul fire is hard enough, then Niko Puumalainen from Lappeenranta describes how to do it.