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Suomi Rocks!

February 27, 2006
(Disclaimer: I criticize anyone who thinks that curling is a bunch of hooey – it is a sport that demands fitness and quick thinking. It is not nearly as easy as it looks!)
 
Congratulations to Markku Uusipaavalniemi, Wille Mäkelä, Kalle Kiiskinen, Teemu Salo and Jani Sullanmaa for winning a silver medal in men’s curling. It is Finland’s first ever curling medal in Olympic competition. The interest in curling in Finland will undoubtedly increase after this performance. As I wrote in an earlier entry, you can try curling in the Helsinki area: http://www.curling.fi/halli/esittely.shtml – take the opportunity now!
 
That aside, what I didn’t understand was the virtual shock in the Finnish press on Finland’s performance. Anyone who knows winter sport in Finland, especially curling, would indeed know of Uusipaavalniemi and his past performances. Wake up you media people, Uusipaavalniemi has been around for an age and he’s been a consistent performer!… Thankfully the commentator on YLE (Voitto Liukkonen) knew much more about the sport this time around (compared to SLC in 2002) and he has done the sport justice by reintroducing it to Finnish viewers.
 
I’ll take the opportunity to review Canada’s and Finland’s record in the Olympic tournament, this is how they matched up:
 
Canada
bye
CAN-GER (10-5)
CAN-SWE (7-8)
CAN-GBR (9-5)
CAN-SUI (7-5)
CAN-NOR (6-5)
bye
CAN-FIN (7-8)
CAN-ITA (6-7)
bye
CAN-NZL (9-1)
CAN-USA (6-3)
 
Semi-final: CAN-USA (11-5) – scored five in the 9th end to put the game out of reach of the Americans.
 
Finland
FIN-SUI (2-7)
FIN-USA (4-3)
bye
FIN-NZL (7-5)
FIN-GER (2-5)
bye
FIN-SWE (11-4)
FIN-CAN (8-7)
FIN-NOR (7-3)
FIN-ITA (7-4)
FIN-GBR (5-2)
bye
 
Semi-final: FIN-GBR (4-3) – last rock in the 10th end with the game tied, Uusipaavalniemi drew to the button for the win (and every Finn watching that game leapt off the couch punching the air in victory – I am sure of that!). Alternate Jani Sullanmaa did not play in the tournament.
 
Helsingin Sanomat International reported that Uusipaavalniemi’s name is so awful to try and pronounce that he is known as U-15 in international curling circles.
 
In an ultimate gesture of flattery someone has created a website in U-15’s honour: 
http://uusipaavalniemi.youaremighty.com/. Here’s another one, there are a whole pile of links with funny pictures too. A lot of it is in Finnish as well: http://uusis.diodi.org/
 
Finally – Way to go gentlemen, Good on ya!
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