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Finland: Where winter sports rule
Finland’s captain Mikko Rantanen lifts the trophy and celebrates with teammates after winning their 2016 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championship final match against Russia, in Helsinki, Finland, 5 January 2016.
It’s as ancient as we are
Ice hockey is clearly the most popular sport in Finland going by attendance figures, television coverage and sponsorship. In no other European country does ice hockey occupy such a prominent place in the domestic sport scene. According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, Finland had 75,781 registered players in 2016 and 263 indoor rinks serving a population of about 5.5 million. The Finnish team has finished on the podium in the Winter Olympics four or five times since NHL players started taking part, more than any other country.
Winter sport is in the Finns’ blood. Hardly a surprise in a country where winter can lasts over six months.
Finland is experienced in hosting diverse winter sports games, both regionally and internationally.
The country has won 161 medals during past Winter Olympics, including 11 medals at the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France, in 1924.
The Finnish keep the “experience economy” concept in mind while hosting sports events. The Lahti stadium, as the host of seven skiing world championships, succeeded in combining ski sports with entertainment, relaxation, and tourism. According to Janne Leskinen, organizing committee executive of the 2017 Lahti World Champions, the focus is more on the game-watching experience, and provides tailored services to families and partygoers.