Koivuniemi in 2011
|Born||Mika Juhani Koivuniemi
6 April 1967
Mika Juhani Koivuniemi (born 6 April 1967) is a Finnish former 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.
Amateur and international accomplishments
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.
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.
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).
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. He has also been dubbed "The Big Finn" by ESPN commentator Randy Pedersen.
Koivuniemi has 14 PBA titles 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, and now stands at over $1.89 million in PBA Tour earnings (through 2016). 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. 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.
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.
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."
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).
- Mika Koivuniemi PBA Tour Bowlers profile www.pba.com, retrieved 23 December 2014
- 2001 WBT Finals results at www.worldtenpinbowling.com
- Vint, Bill. "Koivuniemi Wins Qatar Open, Adds 19th Nation to International Titles List." Article at www.pba.com on December 17, 2012. 
- 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.
- Vint, Bill. "'Major Mika' Wins PBA Tournament of Champions, Record $250,000 First Prize," Article at www.pba.com on January 22, 2011. 
- Schneider, Jerry. "Koivuniemi, Barnes, O'Neill, Belmonte Nominated for 2011 Bowling Espy." Article at www.pba.com on June 28, 2011. 
- Vint, Bill (January 25, 2015). "Haugen Koivuniemi, Kulick Win WBT Finals Titles; Experimental "Frame Play" Scoring System Unveiled". PBA.com. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
- Official Mika Koivuniemi fan site
- PBA.com, official site of the Professional Bowlers Association and the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour