Mika Koivuniemi

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Mika Koivuniemi
Mika Koivuniemi.jpg
Born Mika Juhani Koivuniemi
(1967-04-06) April 6, 1967 (age 47)
Tampere, Finland
Other names Major Mika, The Big Finn
Occupation Ten-Pin Bowler
Years active 1999–present
Spouse(s) Leena Koivuniemi

Mika Juhani Koivuniemi (born April 6, 1967 in Tampere) is a Finnish ten-pin bowler, currently on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) tour in the United States, who has won bowling titles in 19 different countries in his career.

Amateur and International Accomplishments[edit]

Growing up, Koivuniemi was an exceptional athlete, starring in three sports in high school: basketball, hockey, and soccer. Koivuniemi eventually became interested in bowling and made Team Finland in 1988 at age 21. He was an exceptional bowler for Team Finland, winning the 1991 FIQ World Championship, the 1995 European Individual Cup Championship, and the 1996 World Team Cup Championship.

Koivuniemi captured the championship in the 2011 World Bowling Tour (WBT) finals, which were held at the PBA World Series of Bowling in Las Vegas, Nevada. As the #1 seed for the three-person stepladder final, Koivuniemi earned the WBT title by knocking off Sean Rash of the USA, 237-224, in a single-game match.[1]

Mika has won bowling titles in 21 different countries (Austria, Bahrain, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, Qatar, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, USA, and his home country of Finland).[2]

PBA Tour[edit]

Koivuniemi joined the PBA in 1999. He had some initial success, but his first big season did not come until the 2001-02 season when he entered 27 events, cashed in 20, made match play 15 times, made the TV finals three times, and won one title. So far, Koivuniemi's biggest season was the 2003-04 season, when he was awarded PBA Player of the Year honors (joining Venezuela's Amleto Monacelli as the only international players so honored) and also won the PBA's George Young High Average Award. During that season he entered 20 events, cashed in 16, made match play 13 times, made TV seven times, and won two titles. It was during this season that Koivuniemi bowled the 16th-ever televised 300 game in PBA Tour history, in a match against Jason Couch.

Koivuniemi's nickname on tour is "Major Mika," because his first two PBA titles came in major championships: the 2000 ABC Masters and 2001–02 U.S. Open. With the latter victory, he became the first foreign-born player to win the U.S. Open.[3] He has also been dubbed "The Big Finn" by ESPN commentator Randy Pedersen.

Koivuniemi has 13 PBA titles and 28 career 300 games in PBA events through June, 2014. He passed the $1 million mark (U.S.) in total PBA earnings during the 2007-08 season, and now stands at over $1.7 million in PBA Tour earnings (through 2013). An extremely versatile bowler, he was the first player to win a title on all five of the PBA's "animal" oil patterns (Shark, Chameleon, Cheetah, Scorpion and Viper) – a feat matched only by Tommy Jones so far.

On January 22, 2011, Koivuniemi won the PBA Tournament of Champions to capture his third PBA major title and the first prize of $250,000, the richest first-place prize in PBA tour history. In the semifinal match of this tournament, Mika narrowly missed becoming the first player in PBA history to roll two televised 300 games in a PBA Tour event, when he left a 10-pin on the final shot for a 299 score. Coincidentally, Koivuniemi's opponent in that match (Tom Daugherty) scored only 100, so the margin of victory (+199) was the largest in Tour history.[4] He now needs only a PBA World Championship title to complete a career "Grand Slam."

Koivuniemi also finished as the runner-up at the 2011 U.S. Open, which was arguably the most painful moment in his bowling career, as he failed to convert a crucial 10-pin spare in his 10th frame and lost to Norm Duke by the score of 225-216. The missed spare shocked Duke as well, given that Koivuniemi is known as one of the best spare converters on tour. He stated himself that he will never see that "shot" again. Nonetheless, Koivuniemi became the only PBA player to make the TV finals in all four majors during a single season. These 2010-11 accomplishments earned him his second PBA Player of the Year Award.[5]

Although he had been on tour for only nine seasons at the time, Koivuniemi was still ranked #49 on the PBA's 2008 Golden Anniversary list of "50 greatest PBA players of the last 50 years."

Personal[edit]

He resides in Hartland, Michigan, USA with his wife, Leena, and two children.

His aunt, Paula Koivuniemi, is one of the most popular schlager singers in Finland.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2001 WBT Finals results at www.worldtenpinbowling.com
  2. ^ Vint, Bill. "Koivuniemi Wins Qatar Open, Adds 19th Nation to International Titles List." Article at www.pba.com on December 17, 2012. [1]
  3. ^ Archibald, John J. "Finnishing them off: Mika Koivuniemi has plenty to smile about after his convincing victory in the U.S. Open." Article in the April, 2002 issue of Bowling Digest.
  4. ^ Vint, Bill. "'Major Mika' Wins PBA Tournament of Champions, Record $250,000 First Prize," Article at www.pba.com on January 22, 2011. [2]
  5. ^ Schneider, Jerry. "Koivuniemi, Barnes, O'Neill, Belmonte Nominated for 2011 Bowling Espy." Article at www.pba.com on June 28, 2011. [3]

Sources[edit]