Original Photo: Kari Toivonen
There is a tendency when we think about disc golf to follow and heap praise upon the top athletes in America. With so many great events to look forward to in the United States, it’s easy to not look beyond our own neck of the woods. The reality is that disc golf is now a phenomenon that’s beginning to creep into every every corner of the globe. This season, the world will get a little bit smaller as the Finnish player Eveliina Salonen PDGA #64927 will be coming back to America!
Eveliina has already shown that when she plays up to her potential she can go toe to toe with the best female players in the world. She’s demonstrated this at the 2018 Skellefteå Open when she fought off the top female players to take down the impressive victory and truly solidify her as a top contender in the sport. Eveliina pointed toward this very event as her most memorable moment by saying that, “The Skellefteå Open was so thrilling because of the sudden death with Kristin Tattar, Catrina Allen and Paige Pierce.”
Because Eveliina has so much potential, there is a natural inclination to wonder what ripples the young player would make in the sport if she toured the U.S. full-time. I asked her what obstacles kept her from doing that very thing and she spoke honestly by saying, “I sure could see myself touring full-time! Only thing stopping me is the lack of people touring with me. I am 19, so I can’t drive everywhere. Also it’s the money, because it's so expensive to come and live in the U.S. I hope that someday I can tour the U.S. full-time!” Touring for players who already live in the U.S. is a costly proposition and coming from another country only compounds the financial stress.
Because of her youth, making a decision to devote her life to disc golf is not the easiest choice to make. Often times, parents have a huge influence on what their children pursue. I asked Eveliina what her parents thought of her disc golf passion. “They know that when I am into any sport, I am really passionate about it and that I give it 100%. When I started disc golfing, I had just quit my other sport which was motocross. They were really happy that at last I found a new sport that offered friends, lots of fresh air, and a healthy lifestyle.” The way that Eveliina puts herself into her passions, it’s easy to see why she has excelled so quickly at disc golf and makes you wonder what the motocross world might have lost with her departure.
Photo: Jari Salonen
In her short amount of time, she has won some impressive events which include the Konopiště Open, Skellefteå Open, European Disc Golf Championship, finished 4th at the 2017 Gentlemen’s Club Challenge, and 6th at the Memorial Championship that same year. Although her trips to America are infrequent, she intends to make the most of it. Eveliina is already signed up for the Las Vegas Challenge and the Memorial Championship, but she let me in on a secret. “One day I want to be a World Champion.” As she squarely sets her sights on the most prestigious title in disc golf she let me know that, “I plan to play in the 2019 Disc Golf World Championships this year!” With her phenomenal skill and an event record of 34 wins out 54 events (62.9%) it would be hard to bet against her chances to take home a victory.
Eveliina may have a lot of determination to win, but she still wants to have fun and soak in the sun here in the States. I asked her what she looks forward to most when she visits. “The U.S. is an amazing country and I'm looking forward to seeing all the pros and the warm weather.” The American players have gone out of their way to make her feel welcome and she appreciates their hospitality.
There isn’t a doubt that Eveliina Salonen has a tremendous amount of talent and a drive to become the best disc golfer in the world. The real question isn’t “if” but “when” will she begin to take down some big wins in America. Will her visit this season to the United States be an early forecast of things to come? Can she make a run for this year’s World Championship? One thing is for sure, it will be exciting to see what 2019 will hold for Eveliina Salonen.