The streets of Helsinki and Jyv?skyl? are full of joggers, Nordic walkers and cyclists. This may have something to do with the fact that both cities have lots of students, but the trend seems more general than that. Today`s questions are organised around sports an outdoor activities.
Ice hockey is the number one sport of Finland. Many people practice it, but it is even more popular for watching. The Finnish national team usually perform well in international competitions, usually sharing the major prizes with Czech Republic, Canada and Sweden. Joonas (20) says favourite sports number two and three are athletics and cross-country skiing. Car and motor racing are also popular, mainly thanks to successes of Finnish Formula 1 drivers Mika Hakkinen and Kimmi R?ikk?nen in recent years. Winter sports like ski-jumping and cross-country skiing are equally popular. Also in these disciplines, Finland produces leading sports men and women who participate in the distribution of golden medals in every edition of the Winter Olympics.
`Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Finland`
Watching and practising
Football isn`t close to being as popular as it is throughout Southern Europe. It is commonly practised, but due to the weather, it can only be practised a few months each year. Even with artificially heated football fields, the season only runs from April to October and Tampere United seems to be the best prepared candidate for this year`s title. Jari Litmanen is considered the best Finnish football player of all times. He played at Ajax in The Netherlands during their European hegemony in the mid-1990s and joined FC Barcelona afterwards.
It sounds like hiking is not even taken for a sport, because almost everybody goes out walking in the forest regularly, but nobody actually mentions it. Cycling is also practised, both as a means of transportation and as a sport. In both cases, people are likely to wear helmets. In Jyv?skyl?, cycling is not an easy thing to do. There are no cycling lanes, and people seem to be a bit confused not knowing where to cycle: on the pavement or on the street.
People`s own favourites
Inka (24) is boxing, going to the gym and yoga stretching. Girls often do aerobics or new types of gym like spinning. Reima (22) is one of many people who frequently leave their houses for a jogging tour through the park. He also tells me about two other games that are popular in Finland: Sallibandy a type of football with a stick, a ball and goals on both sides, and Finnish baseball. In Finnish baseball, the bases are not in the shape of a square but in a zig-zag pattern. The ball is not thrown at the person batting the ball away, it is rather thrown up in the air and waited for to come down before it is preferably beaten to the other end of the stadium.
Whatever sport each person may practice, sport takes up an important part in Finnish life. Being sportive is considered normal, while missing out is not something to be proud of and goes against the unwritten rules of being Finnish. Equipment is once again part of the game. All sports are practised with the related equipment and people tend to have different yet complete outfits for every single sport they practice. Earlier, I concluded that almost every Finn is a student. Most of them are sportsmen and -women, too.
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