Her friends describe her as a "radiant and athletic person who is constantly in motion." With a good sense of humor and a nose for excitement, Team Discmania member Jenni Eskelinen has some added responsibility next to her disc golf commitments for this coming year: being a mom.
After getting started with disc golf around 2009, she burst onto the disc golf scene in 2014 when she won the European Championships and followed it up with a third place finish in 2016.
Eskelinen is anxious to get back on the course in 2018, but this time she'll do it with her daughter along for the ride. If she isn't disc golfing in Oulu, Finland, she's working as a sports instructor.
We talked to Eskelinen about her disc golf past, becoming a mother, and what she has planned for the upcoming season.
Jenni's 2017 season ended as early as July. Photo: Eino Ansio.
When did you find disc golf and did it take long for you to start competing?
I started playing on weekends in 2009. That went on for a few years until I got more into the sport and started practicing in 2012. Soon, I found myself in weekly league events and I was spending more of my free time playing disc golf than staying at home.
That's when I got to know other disc golfers. One of those people was Erno Väyrynen, who works for Discmania nowadays. He became one of my biggest inspirations. He saw some potential in me and with him encouraging and supporting me I started to invest more time and effort in disc golf. I made my PDGA debut in 2013 and here I am.
What's your strength as a competitor?
I've gained quite a bit of experience from competing during these years. I don't really feel nervous or stressed when I'm competing. I consider that as my greatest strength since stressing before or during competitions drains your energy and takes your focus away from the task at hand. My short game is one of my strong suits as well.
Your involvement in disc golf isn't only limited to your role as a competitor though. What else do you do?
I'm also a disc golf instructor. I coach players of all skill levels. I run introductory courses, clinics, and I coach both at work and during my free time. I'm part of Disc Golf Instructors Finland (DGIF), which is a training organization authorized by Finnish Disc Golf Association (FDGA). The DGIF is responsible for designing quality training systems and carrying out the training of disc golf instructors. I've ran disc golf training camps for junior players for FDGA. On a local level, I'm in charge of the weekly league system in cooperation with another disc golf club in Oulu.
Getting back to the very positive reason why your season 2017 was cut short… Congrats for the three of you! That is surely a huge change in your lives?
Thanks! The daily life with its routines is already working out great. The biggest change of the grown family is that we take the baby into account in everything we plan to do. Everything has been really well though, and the baby tags along in our activities.
What about playing and practicing disc golf? How has it changed?
Actually the daily life with the baby and maternity leave have helped my disc golf activitities and practicing. Now I have time for it and I'm able to focus on disc golf properly. It's surprisingly easy to play even with the baby buggy. However, tournament trips must be planned earlier, and with more care, but my plans for next season are nearly done already. The baby will join me on some of the trips. I really have to thank my family for all their support and help. Because of them I have a chance to travel and compete and I can continue playing.
When will we see you competing again? How are you preparing for the upcoming season?
At the moment, it looks like my season starts with a EuroProTour event held at Vierumäki (FIN). I'll play another few EuroProTour events later in the season and the Finnish Pro-Tour and Finnish Championships. I've left some room for later additions as I'm sure that some interesting events will come up along the way.
Preparations are well on their way. Playing in the winter has never been my thing. While it's still snowy and cold I'm focusing on diverse, quality training. I've stuck to the plan I made and it feels like I'm getting good results. Physical exercises are a big part of my preparations in addition to disc golf specific drills.
What are your expectations and goals for the 2018 season?
My main goal is to get a spot on the national team to represent Finland in the European Championships in Croatia. I'm aiming for the podium in the Finnish Championships as well. I expect the 2018 season to be complete with improved results. Since the 2017 ended even a bit earlier than expected I had to skip some big events that I really wanted to attend. I'm very hungry to compete and I can't wait for the season to start! :)