Mika Koivuniemi

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Mika Koivuniemi
20111129MikaKoivuniemi-Qatar-byVinodDivakaran copy.jpg
Koivuniemi in 2011
Mika Juhani Koivuniemi

(1967-04-06) 6 April 1967 (age 51)
Tampere, Finland
Other names
  • Major Mika
  • The Big Finn
OccupationTen-Pin Bowler
Years active1999–2016
Spouse(s)Leena Koivuniemi

Mika Juhani Koivuniemi (born 6 April 1967) is a Finnish professional ten-pin bowler. He competed on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) tour in the United States, and won bowling titles in 21 different countries during his career.[1] He is a two-time PBA Player of the Year (2003–04 and 2010–11 seasons). On October 1, 2018, the PBA announced that Koivuniemi was elected to the PBA Hall of Fame, and will be inducted with the 2019 class.[2] He is also a member of the World Bowling Writers Hall of Fame and Finland Bowling Hall of Fame.[2]

Koivuniemi is currently the bowling coach for the United Arab Emirates national team,[3] and competes in some events on the PBA50 Tour.[4]

Amateur and international accomplishments[edit]

Growing up, Koivuniemi was an exceptional athlete, starring in three sports in high school: basketball, hockey, and soccer.[citation needed] 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.

On April 15, 2011 Koivuniemi captured the championship in the 2011 World Bowling Tour (WBT) Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada. As the #1 seed for the three-person stepladder final, Koivuniemi earned the WBT title by defeating Sean Rash of the USA 237–224 in a single-game match.[5]

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).[6]

PBA Tour[edit]

Koivuniemi has 14 PBA titles, including three majors, and 29 career 300 games in PBA events through 2016. He passed the $1 million mark (U.S.) in total PBA earnings during the 2007-08 season. 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.

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. Koivuniemi raised the bar in 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 at that time) 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.[7] He has also been dubbed "The Big Finn" by ESPN commentator Randy Pedersen.

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. Koivuniemi's opponent in that match (Tom Daugherty) scored only 100, so the margin of victory (+199) was the largest in Tour history.[8] 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. Needing a spare and nine pins in the 10th frame to win the final match, he shockingly failed to convert a 10-pin spare 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. 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.[9]

On December 2, 2012, Koivuniemi became the first European player to win the PBA-DHC Japan Cup.[2] Less than two weeks later, he won the PBA-WBT Qatar Open for his 11th PBA title.

Mika is a two-time winner of the World Bowling Tour (WBT) Men's Finals. Participants in the finals are based on a rolling points list from WBT events over the previous two years. Koivuniemi won his most recent WBT Men's Final on November 2, 2014, defeating Sean Rash in the final match.[10]

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." He has won over $1.89 million (USD) in his PBA career.[2]


Koivuniemi announced in July 2015 that he would be retiring from full-time competitive bowling. The opportunity to coach the bowling team of the United Arab Emirates and the need to rehab from back and knee injuries were the main factors in his decision.[3]

Hall of Fame[edit]

Koivuniemi was elected to the PBA Hall of Fame on October 1, 2018. He will be officially inducted at a ceremony in Arlington, Texas on January 5, 2019.[2]

PBA50 Tour[edit]

Koivuniemi came out of retirement in 2018 to participate in the PBA Senior U.S. Open, a major championship on the PBA50 Tour (formerly PBA Senior Tour). He was the #2 qualifier after the first 24 games,[4] moved up to the #1 seed after the match play round, and won the tournament on June 15 for his first PBA50 Tour title. He stated he will bowl in an occasional professional event when he is able to get time off from his coaching duties.[11]

Koivuniemi's PBA Titles[edit]

Major championships are in bold type.

PBA Tour[edit]

2000 – ABC Masters (Albuquerque, NM)
2001 – U.S. Open (Fountain Valley, CA)
2003 – PBA Cambridge Credit Classic (Windsor Locks, CT)
2004 – PBA Reno Open (Reno, NV)
2005 – PBA GEICO Open (Mesa, AZ)
2005 – PBA Baby Ruth Real Deal Classic (Indianapolis, IN)
2007 – Sun City Classic (El Paso, TX)
2007 – Dydo Japan Cup (Tokyo)
2011 – PBA Tournament of Champions (Las Vegas, NV)
2012 – Round1 Japan Cup (Tokyo)
2012 – PBA-WBT Qatar Open (Doha)
2013 – PBA-WBT Vienna Open (Vienna, Austria)
2014 – Brunswick Ballmaster Open (Helsinki, Finland)
2014 – WSOB VI Viper Championship (Las Vegas, NV)

PBA50 Tour[edit]

2018 – Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open (Las Vegas, NV)


While born and raised in Finland, Mika now resides in Hartland, Michigan, USA with his wife, Leena, and two children, named Ida-Sofia and Lidia.

In recent TV appearances, the back of his bowling shirt has his name spelled phoenetically (koy-voo-nee-em-ee).

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


  1. ^ Mika Koivuniemi PBA Tour Bowlers profile www.pba.com, retrieved 23 December 2014
  2. ^ a b c d e "PBA Champions Patrick Allen, Mika Koivuniemi Elected to Hall of Fame Along With Bob Johnson, Jim Doty". pba.com. October 1, 2018. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Mika Koivuniemi retiring from bowling full-time". ballreviews.com. July 22, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Bad Game Doesn't Prevent Ryan Shafer from Taking Top Qualifier Honors In Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open". pba.com. June 14, 2018. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  5. ^ 2001 WBT Finals results at www.worldtenpinbowling.com Archived 2012-04-08 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Vint, Bill. "Koivuniemi Wins Qatar Open, Adds 19th Nation to International Titles List." Article at www.pba.com on December 17, 2012. [1]
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Vint, Bill. "'Major Mika' Wins PBA Tournament of Champions, Record $250,000 First Prize," Article at www.pba.com on January 22, 2011. [2]
  9. ^ Schneider, Jerry. "Koivuniemi, Barnes, O'Neill, Belmonte Nominated for 2011 Bowling Espy." Article at www.pba.com on June 28, 2011. [3]
  10. ^ Vint, Bill (January 25, 2015). "Haugen Koivuniemi, Kulick Win WBT Finals Titles; Experimental "Frame Play" Scoring System Unveiled". PBA.com. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  11. ^ Schneider, Jerry (June 15, 2018). "Mika Koivuniemi Wins Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open For First PBA50 Tour Title". pba.com. Retrieved June 18, 2018.