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Finland kicked some serious butt in 2006

February 1, 2007
 
Okay, most of these are sports-related entries, but I follow sports pretty closely, so you’ll have to excuse my ignorance in other areas where Finns have kicked some serious butt. But hey – if you know I have missed something here – tell me and I can add it!
 
How did Finns do last year, well, let’s take a look:
  • Hockey – The men’s team took silver at the Olympics and bronze at the World Championships. The women’s national team was rather disappointing last year – upstaged by the Swedes actually…
  • Eurovision – Who can forget how Lordi turned Europe upside down back in May 2006!? Yeah!
  • Motorsport – Mika Häkkinen has had a relatively successful run in the DTM series (he’ll always be an F1 guy to me…) and Mika Kallio for consistency in the Moto GP 125cc series with Red Bull KTM.
  • Medalists at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino included – Mikko Ronkkainen (silver in freestyle moguls), Matti Hautamäki (silver in ski jumping), the men’s ski jumping team (silver), the men’s curling team led by Markku Uusipaavalniemi (silver), Tanja Poutiainen (silver in the women’s giant slalom), Markku Koski (bronze in the men’s half pipe), Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Virpi Kuitunen (bronze in the women’s x-country team sprint) and the men’s Nordic Combined team (bronze)
  • Jukka Keskisalo – for his out of this world performance at the European Athletics Championships when he won gold in the 3000m steeplechase… It was amazing to listen to TV commentators in all languages yelling thru the final 100m of the race – they had no idea what was going on! ha ha
  • Tero Pitkämäki – If it wasn’t for his Norwegian rival Andreas Thorkildsen, Pitkämäki would most certainly be the best men’s javelin thrower in the world right now. Finns always have high hopes for this fella, who has performed consistently (though not always in the medals) over the past couple of years. Look for more of him at the Beijing Olympics – provided he stays healthy.
  • Olli-Pekka Karjalainen – OP is one heck of a hammer thrower and was a medalist at last summer’s European Championships. Look for him in Beijing next year!
  • Rally car – Marcus Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen, and consistent top 10 finishes by other Finns… Just another day at the office for these guys…
  • Tiia Piili – Who can compete with this record (except her predecessor Tuuli Matinsalo) in competitive aerobics?… 5-time Finnish champion, 4-time European champion and 4-time world champion… The 27 year-old retired last fall as she has achieved all that she can in the sport.
  • Amin Asikainen – The pro boxer successfully defended his European title the other day in Helsinki, but made a huge impact in the media last year for his performances in the ring. See more http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Asikainen+retains+boxing+title/1135224719443
  • Teppo Numminen – On November 13, 2006, Numminen made history when he played his 1252nd game in the NHL – setting a new record for games played in the NHL by a European (incidentally, the previous holder of this record was another Finn – Jari Kurri). The Tampere-native has crafted his game in Winnipeg (where he started in 1988), later Phoenix, Dallas and now with the Buffalo Sabres. He’s a great guy, classy! Numminen has scored a bit of luck in his career in having not suffered any serious injuries. Keep plugging away Teppo!
  • Pekka Koskela – is showing that he is a force to be reckoned with in men’s sprint speed skating… See the previous entry I wrote about him on December 14.
There were a whole lot of other great Finnish performances in 2006 and it makes me really happy to live here and see people achieve, perform and win… I can’t be home to see Canadians kick butt – so I will take the next best thing and watch the compatriots in my adopted country do their thing!
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