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Winter Olympic fever heating up in Finland

January 16, 2006

All you sports nuts out there are surely aware the Winter Olympics in Italy are less than a month away (February 10-26). A look ahead to some of Finland’s medal hopefuls for the Torino Olympics:

  • Pekka Koskela – men’s speedskating
  • Tanja Poutiainen – women’s alpine skiing
  • Kalle Palander – men’s alpine skiing
  • Sami Mustonen, Mikko Ronkainen, Tapio Luusua – men’s moguls
  • Markku Uusipaavalniemi, Willie Mäkelä, Kalle Kiiskinen, Teemu Salo and Jani Sullanmaa – men’s curling
  • Men’s and Women’s hockey teams – this is a given. Finland is always a contender in both the men’s and women’s tournaments. The Finnish men last medalled in 1998 in Nagano, taking bronze in a 3-2 victory over Canada.
  • Susanna Pöykiö – figure skating (2nd at the 2005 European Championships)
  • Virpi Kuitunen – women’s cross-country skiing. After falling foul of doping officials in Lahti in 2001, Kuitunen has redeemed herself and revived her career. She is currently one of Finland’s hottest medal prospects for cross-country skiing. The women’s relay team has also performed well of late and are considered a real medal contender in Torino.
  • Hannu Manninen – Nordic combined
  • Jaakko Tallus and co. – Nordic combined team events
  • Janne Ahonen – ski jumping
  • Matti Hautamäki and the rest of the ski-jumping team – ski jumping team events
  • Antti Autio – snowboarding

All of the above are serious medal contenders in my opinion, so look out for them! If I understand correctly, the rest of Finland’s Winter Olympic team for Torino will be determined by January 25. See the Finnish Olympic Committee’s web pages here: http://www.noc.fi/. All this winter sport stuff is great, yet at the same time very maddening – we’re living with NO SNOW in southern Finland = no skiing… I am going crazy. But I can assure you I am not the only one! Lots of skiing freaks have already broken their bikes out because of the lack of the white stuff. All we can do is be armchair athletes and watch skiing on TV when all the elite skiers are doing their thing. If the road maintenance crews would clear up the sidewalks, us ski freaks could go rollerblading… wishful thinking eh?

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