The Olympics often make us privy to some of life’s more interesting stories. Athletes who have overcome personal obstacles. Teams who’ve work together to reach their medal dreams. And behind the scenes are the coaches—the ones responsible for training the competitors to go for the gold. Each coach has his or her own way of keeping the athletes focused, calm and ready to go.
Take Finnish snowboarding coach Antti Koskinen. This coach doesn’t rely on big speeches or strategy sessions while on the slopes. Nope. He has two basic tools to keep things zen-like before the big runs: a pair of knitting needles! Check out this pic that Shelby-Jai Flick caught of Koskinen at the top of the slopes:
The Finnish coach is KNITTING at the top of the slopestyle course. Someone please find out what this man is making!!!#PyongChang2018 #snowboard pic.twitter.com/Nr87YBJ2lf
— Shelby-Jai Flick (@ShelbyJaiFlick) February 10, 2018
Koskinen’s extracurricular activity may seem unusual, especially in the midst of the competition, but the crafting actually began back at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to Yahoo Sports. the Finnish team psychologist suggested that the entire team work on scarf projects to keep their stress levels down. So every Finnish team member was provided with knitting needles and yarn to make scarves to pass on to the Summer Olympics team representing their country. Here’s a pic team member Noora Räty posted to Twitter back in 2014:
What do I like to do the night before a game? There you go: pic.twitter.com/WfZ95kUPn4
— Noora Räty (@Nooraty41) February 9, 2014
As for how the knitting needles made it to the slopes, one evening, before the snowboarding competition, one of Koskinen’s athletes noticed his coach knitting a scarf. The snowboarder found that amusing, which gave the coach an idea. He wanted to keep things chill on the slopes (pardon the weather pun), so Koskinen decided to bring his knitting project along to the mountain.
It turns out the team psychologist stitched together a pretty good idea. According to Psychology Today, knitting’s “rhythmic movements seem to put us in the present moment, distracting us from mulling over the past or fear of the future.” The movement relaxes the body, resulting in lower blood pressure and heart rate.
This year at the Olympics, the Finnish team has another special knitting project. Olympic Team Finland posted an update on Twitter showing off their country’s finest winter athletes coming together for something totally adorable:
We are #knitting again 😀 In Sochi we made a huge scarf, this time we are knitting a blanket for our presidential couple’s newborn son. 💙🇫🇮#olympicteamfi #knittingteamfi #pyeongchang2018 #olympics #olympialaiset #pyeongchangfi pic.twitter.com/mwKLgh1h2j
— Olympic Team Finland (@OlympicTeamFI) February 12, 2018
That new baby will be wrapped in the warmth and love of an entire Olympic team’s worth. That’s a gold medal effort right there!