Classic star Katri Luomaniemi: “Let’s do it” – 03.10.2017

Last year, Classic Tampere reached the Champions Cup final only to get beaten by Pixbo Wallenstam. This year Classic and their top center Katri Luomaniemi wish to see a packed Seinäjoki Arena carry them all the way.

Kati Luomaniemi knows what it takes to play the Champions Cup. In addition to last year’s final, she was there to lose the semi-final in 2015 in Czech Republic playing for Swiss Piranha Chur.
– After a Champions Cup loss, you sit quietly in the dressing room studying our shoes. That’s something you don’n want to go through again and that thought sure is a motivator. Yet, after losing you used to think ‘Damn we were so much behind’ as you now think ‘We were so close to beating them´, Katri Luomaniemi laughs.

It’s been a while since a Finnish team brought home the Champions Cup trophy: That was Classic Tampere in 2003 – 2004. There have been Finnish lost finals but all the trophies have traveled to Sweden or Switzerland. Getting to play before your home crowd is an asset but Classic does not make it an obsession to win.

– We have been there often enough to not think about it too much. We are going to be prepared and do our best out there. It is a nice part of the floorball autumn but not something to stay awake for.

The previous Champions Cup played in Finland took place in Classic’s home town Tampere. Having experienced both Swiss and Finnish Superfinale events, Katri Luomaniemi is looking forward to playing before a major audience again.

– It looks to me there has been more pre-event hype than ever before. SPV games only are guaranteed to bring a lot of spectators and I hope we and TPS can bring in Finnish women’s floorball fans, too. Classic fans from Tampere will certainly be there and it’s always great to play when the arenas are full. I’ll rather not hear the advice in the rink than listen to the squawking of shoes.

This is the first time Seinäjoki area gets to witness the skills world’s best female floorball players. SPV used to have a team in women’s Salibandyliiga where they were at their best among top three but the team has been laid down since.

–  For someone who has not seen women’s top floorball before, this is a great opportunity to come and take a look. International games of this level are in a class of their own, Luomaniemi says.

As an experienced player, Katri Luomaniemi knows you’ll have to be prepared and alert the very moment the Champions Cup starts.

– We know what the present formula is like and we’ll just have to be ready. You either do what it takes or head home right away. Earlier when the tournament was longer, it felt like a WFC with an occasional day off and you also prepared more thoroughly.

With her 72 national team games and 55 points Katri Luomaniemi is one of the players fighting for a place in Finland’s WFC squad in December. Not even the two losses against Sweden in September killed the Finns’ hopes for a gold medal in Bratislava.

– Those games strengthened our feeling about being abler to beat them. We used to think that takes a perfect game by us and an unsuccessful night by them but we now feel a very good game by us is enough. Unnecessary extra respect is gone and we now know not even Sweden is invincible.
Luomaniemi played WFC in 2011 and 2013 but she did not make the team in the home WFCin Tampere in 2015.

– Not making the team was one of the biggest disappointments in my floorball career. After that I had already decided I had done my part for the national team but a year ago, with lots of players out with injuries I got a call from head coach Lasse Kurronen.  Joining the squad again felt good and I promised to give my all for a place in the WFC. Right now, changing my mind feels good.

Katri Luomaniemi started her top floorball career in 2003 and it’s been an excellent one with Finnish and Swiss titles and 275 points in 207 Finnisn women’s Salibandyliiga games. Even the best careers will curve towards their endings, though.

– I have a feeling this is my final season and that’s my last chance to enjoy playing fully. At times I feel out of place watching our younger players’ skills but obviously the coaches still see something I might be useful for. At least I play calm as I no longer have the speed for fast moves, she laughs.

Age also brings a larger perspective.

– I no longer take floorball too seriously. It is one part of my life and realizing that has allowed me to train and play more relaxed. Making a mistake in the rink is no longer the end of the world. It’s only floorball but I like it.

As a team, Classic’s summer and preseason were hampered by injuries but Katri Luomaniemi thinks they are ready.

– We worked hard through the summer and I hope that shows in Seinäjoki. Our squad is smaller than it was in the previous seasons but we were joined by several talented players from our junior team.