Friday, February 21, 2014

Gold for Finland!

Finland had a great day in the Sochi Winter Olympics on Wednesday when we got two medals on the same day! For a small country like Finland that kind of thing doesn't happen all the time; in fact, hardly ever. This time, however, both men and women got medals from cross-country skiing; women got silver and men gold!

It was great to hear the Finnish national anthem, Maamme, after a long period of time, and it was wonderful to see the joy in the athletes. Even though the extensive use of doping has -unfortunately- cast a permanent shadow on sports, it still is rousing to be involved in a major sporting event such as the Olympics. The spectators really feel involved, and the excitement is often very intense indeed. I guess those are the fundamental things in sports; to compete, to support, to feel excited, to feel exhilarated or to be really disappointed.

Today there is an exciting day for us Finns again, when the Finnish ice hockey team, Leijonat, is fighting against Sweden. The stakes are high: the winner gets to compete for the gold medal, whereas the loser will fight for positions three and four. Actually, the game is about to start as we speak, and if I hurry up, I just might catch a glimpse of the 3rd period when I get home...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Winter Olympics about to begin!

I'm sure nobody is unaware that the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are just about to begin. Actually, the first preliminary events have already taken place, and we Finns are happy to know that three of our slopestyle -skiers were able to make their way directly to the finals. It has become apparent in recent years that Finland has some top competitors particularly in snowboarding and freestyle skiing along with cross-country skiing and ice hockey. There has also been an interesting change in the attitudes of the participants: the traditional -and very understandable- attitude has been that competitors are aiming at winning, but these young freestyle skiiers and snowboarders are in for the fun! They seem surprisingly relaxed even in the biggest of competitions, and the reason for this is probably that they don't focus all their thoughts on possible victory or defeat, but in the notion of being able to ski in brand new slopes or half pipes etc., meeting other people enthusiastic about the same thing, and being a part of a big sporting event. The feeling of enjoying what you are doing really shows in their performances, and I think it's one of the reasons they have been so successful. It's been said that us Finns have a colossally low self-esteem, and that we fear failure so much that succeeding is therefore difficult for us. Fortunately, this seems to be changing.

We had a discussion about the 2014 Winter Olympics with my Coffee Mornings -group on Thursday, and we all took a guess of how many medals the Finnish athletes are going to receive this time. My guess was four medals, and this is how I came up with that number:  I think the young snowboarders or freestyle skiiers are going to bring home two medals (even though the Finns are good, the rivals are tough as well), the Finnish female ice hockey team is going to get a medal, and we'll get one medal from cross-country skiing. I'm afraid there won't be any medals for us in ski jumping, men's ice hockey or Nordic combined. We have one good biathlonist, but I don't think she'll win a medal. She'll be close to the podium, but not quite on it.

Okay, there you have it; my guesses on how the Finnish team will do within the next couple of weeks! Hopefully I'm wrong and the Finns will win a lot more medals, but I was trying to be realistic in my estimates. We'll get back to this issue when the games are over and see how I did with my opinions!