'Finnish Sports' in Finland
- Ice Hockey
- Floorball (Salibandy)
- Cross-country & Downhill Skiing
- Rally Driving & Spectating
- Folk Racing (Jokamiehenluokka, Jokkis)
- Tour Skating - Tour de Skate
- Ice Swimming
- Porvo: Akilles Sports Club
See also: 'Expat Sports':
Sports Facilities, Sports for Kids (Helsinki), Rugby, Australian Rules Football, Gaelic Football, American Football, Cricket, Baseball & Softball, Cycle Touring, Bicycle Repairs, Fishing, Rowing, Karate, Thai Boxing
Introduction - Organised Sports
If you're of a sporty disposition and living in Finland, you'd probably like to try some typically 'Finnish' sports. Most of the central organisations only have Finnish and Swedish versions of their sites, but that doesn't mean you're not welcome if you're a foreigner! Though you may need to speak a little Finnish if you want to play a team sport.
Finnish to English translations work well in Chrome browser (How?).
Translate in Chrome
Desktop: Right-click anywhere on a page and click Translate to [Language].
iPhone / iPad: At bottom of screen, tap Translate.
Android: At bottom of screen select Language, tap Translate.
Alternatively use Google Translate.
If you're just looking for a casual game, go through the posts or post your own message at one of the English-speaking forums - there are many foreigners in similar circumstances and you can probably find some fun there!
Finterest - Sports and Sports Facilities
Among other events and activities, Finterest helps you find sports and outdoor facilities Finland-wide in its Sports, Outdoors, and Nature sections. As listings appear, zoom in on the map of Finland for further details in the location of your choice, and links to the relevant websites.
www.finterest.fi - in 20 languages!
Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Finland, and Finland has twice won the World Championship, in 1995 and 2011.
Hockey is a hobby for almost 200,000 Finns and there are about 68,000 registered players, 430 clubs, 3,000 teams and 40,000 games played per season! If you're serious about hockey check out
Finnish Ice Hockey Association: www.finhockey.fi - Fi
Hobby hockey is a less violent version of the game, with teams usually organised by groups of friends or by the workplace. Hobby Hockey has its own set of rules and could be the solution if you're a bit worried about getting clobbered! If you want to put together a company team, Hobby Hockey is organised in eight regions. Ask around at your workplace to see what the situation is; if your company does not already have a team, use Google Translate to find out more at
www.finhockey.fi > Harrastekiekko (Regional contacts)
Ice Hockey - Watch a Game!
Even if you're not a big sports fan, it's well worth watching at least one live ice hockey game. It's fast-paced, exciting, and the spectators are high-spirited. The Finnish national league is the SM-liiga; any game in that competition is bound to impress. Calendars of hockey game fixtures are available at:
www.liiga.fi > Games - English
www.eurohockey.com > Games - English
Tickets can be purchased through www.lippu.fi - En, Fi, Sw
Salibandy, or Floorball, only officially started in Finland in 1985, but in terms of registered players floorball now occupies third place after football and ice hockey. According to the Finnish Floorball Federation, floorball is the most popular school, youth, club, conscript and workplace sport. As with ice hockey, it looks a bit difficult to get into floorball 'formally' if you're not a fluent Finnish speaker, but it may well be possible - and fun! - to join your company's team if they have one. You can also try:
- English-speaking forums where there are almost certainly others with a similar interest
- facebook.com/jollydragonfun Jolly Dragon has a regular, active floorball event in Helsinki
- www.salibandy.fi Finnish Floorball Federation Finnish-only; works in Google Translate
When I first came to Finland I met a lady who told me her hobby was "uphill skiing". I thought she'd made a mistake and corrected her English. She corrected me and said, "No! I mean uphill skiing - there are so many ways to go up the hill!"
Welcome to Finland.
As VisitFinland.com explains:
Cross-country skiing is part of Finnish culture, and nearly every Finn learns it right after taking their first steps. Decades ago it was an important means of transport in the winter, and skiing across forests and lakes on the way to work or school was commonplace. In smaller communities, kids still ski to school when there’s snow on the ground.
There are over 70 ski resorts in Finland, with 250+ lifts transporting guests on more than 300 km of slopes. The highest altitude ski resort is Pallas, at 780 m. Popular northern resorts with long seasons are Levi, Pyhä (and nearby Luosto), Ylläs, and Ruka. Himos is popular in central Finland, and Ukko-Koli in southern Finland. Vihti Ski Center is the largest ski resort in the capital region. Find out more at:
- Ski.fi: All about skiing in Finland, including a directory of ski resorts with information on opening dates, lifts, trails, and current conditions
- VisitFinland.com: Articles about skiing in Finland, each with links to related sites and information. Search skiing
- Nationalparks.fi: Nationalparks.fi is a brilliant resource where you can search destinations for the outdoors activity of your choice
- Finlandnaturally.com: Finland, Naturally is another great resource for outdoor activities and destinations in Finland
Skiing and Skating Conditions, Finland-wide:
Handy website shows the condition of ski trails, skating and swimming venues across Finland. In English, Finnish, Swedish
In the 1960's Finnish rally drivers such as Rauno Aaltonen, Timo Mäkinen and Pauli Toivonen began dominating international events. They have been doing so ever since; Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Mäkinen each won the World Championship four times during their respective careers. Finland is by far the most successful nation in the World Rally Championship, and Finland hosts numerous rally events from a hobby/amateur level up to Finland's WRC event, the Neste Rally. It's not likely you can 'have a go' in the Neste Rally, but you can certainly try driving at a lower level, and you can go and watch the big guns doing some awesome rally driving!
There are a few companies who will put you in the driving seat!
- MotorSpace Event Centre
MotorSpace, in Tampere, will put you in the driver's seat of a rally car on their 800 metre Rallycross track. They have winter and summer events, as well as other activities like ATV safaris and karting on ice! The site is in Finnish only but works well in Google Translate. Check the video; it looks pretty cool!
- Rally Promotion Finland
One-day Introduction to Rally courses through to longer personal, intensive rally coaching programs. Summer and winter programs, using Subaru Impreza WRX rally cars. Co-piloting Experience also available - take the ride of your life on a forest rally road! Tracks include Saukkola forest rally stage, 1 hour from Helsinki airport and 25 minutes from nearest hotel.
- Juha Kankkunen Driving Academy
Sport Driving and Rally School with 4-time rally world champion Juha Kankkunen and his team at the 6.5 km Kuusamo race track next to Ruka ski resort. Awesome winter sport driving! All driving programs are tailored, for both beginners and advanced drivers.
- BMW Winter Driving Experience
15 minutes from Rovaniemi airport. Key elements include driving with limited friction, steering technique, emergency braking and avoiding, and drifting exercises. The annual program is held in March. At the end of the session participants can compete against each other. Group bookings are available, and Consumer Days for single entrants. Vehicles are BMW xDrive 1- series and 3-series.
There are numerous events throughout Finland which you can go and enjoy as a spectator, from local amateur events through to WRC racing. The following sites will have event information and in many cases information for spectators about, for example, where NOT to stand so you don't get a rally car on your head!
- Finnish Rally Championship
The official Finnish Rally Championship site has a comprehensive version in English, including a calendar of FRC events throughout Finland, photo galleries, information about drivers and much more!
www.rallism.fi > English > Events
- Neste Rally Finland - July/August
Held in Jyväskylä in late July / early August, the Finnish round of the World Rally Championship is known for its fast flowing gravel stages, spectacular jumps and fabulous lakeside sceneries. Comprehensive site in English, including ticket sales.
- Arctic Lapland Rally - Late January
Also known as 'Tunturiralli' and 'Arctic Rally'. Held in late January on ice and snow covered roads in Rovaniemi, Lapland, and part of the Finnish Rally Championship. Comprehensive site in English.
www.arcticrally.fi > English
- Ralli.net Competition Calendar
Year-round calendar listing of rally events throughout Finland in Rally, Rallysprint, Rallycross, Amateur, and Track categories. Ralli.net also has a marketplace for cars and parts! In Finnish but works quite well with Google Translate.
www.ralli.net > Kalenteri
- AKK-Motorsport Competition Calendar
AKK-Motorsport is an umbrella organisation governing over 320 member clubs in Finland. Year-round event calendar In Finnish. All events are clickable, leading to further information, event websites etc.
www.autourheilu.fi > Kilpailukalenteri
Folk races take place all over Finland with an event pretty much every weekend. As featured on Top Gear, folk racing is a popular entry-level form of rallycross run mainly on gravel tracks designed to limit the top speed to 80 km/h. The competitions are divided into classes depending on age and gender, and participants can be as young as 15. The race is divided into heats, usually with 6 cars. The driver winning a race is awarded seven points, second five points, third four points and so on. When all the heats have been driven, the total score is calculated and the top six drivers race in the A final, the next six in the B final and so on. The winner of the A final wins the event. The races are run in 'standard' cars, usually considered too old for everyday driving. Participants can generally drive whatever model they like as long as it meets minimum safety regulations.
Buying a car: To keep the sport for "every man" there is a rule on vehicle price. All the cars have the same nominal value; €1400 in 2015. After a race, any competition-licenced driver can make a bid on any car, and if there is more than one offer for a car the buyer is chosen randomly. Refusing to sell your car is grounds for having your competition licence revoked!. The system eliminates excessive investment of money or time into a 'jokkis' car.
If you're a resident of Finland and you'd like to get into rally driving, this would be the place to start - you will need a competition licence and a car! Information and links below:
- Top Gear and other Folk Racing videos: www.youtube.com
Search "Mika Hakkinen teaches Captain Slow to drive" &/or "Folk racing Finland"
- Information, and Event Calendar:
www.autourheilu.fi > Lajit > Jokamiehenluokka - Information, How to join, Contacts - in Finnish only
www.autourheilu.fi > Lajit > Jokamiehenluokka > Kilpailukalenteri - Calendar in Finnish only
This site works in Google Translate.
More than a thousand kilometres of coastline and nearly 200,000 lakes; when the waters freeze over, tour skaters grab their blades and head out! Decades ago in the Finnish archipelago, skating from island to island was a way of getting around and visiting neighbours in winter. Nowadays tour skating is a popular outdoor activity and a great means of enjoying the frozen waterways and beautiful scenery.
VisitFinland has a page about tour skating, and links to companies in various parts of Finland which will get you on the ice!
VisitFinland: www.visitfinland.com - Search 'Tour de Skate' in the search box at top of screen
"Swimming in a hole in the ice does you the world of good." Test that theory! You've heard about Finns cutting holes in the ice and jumping in. Try it for yourself at:
- SMARK Rowing Club Helsinki Merikannontie 4, 00260. Ph: 050 5722 318 (Mon-Fri 9:00-16:00)
Not far from the Olympic Stadium, non-members of SMARK Rowing Club can go ice swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 17:00-17:30. Members can go every day, and there's a sauna too!
www.smark.fi Club and course info in English
www.smark.fi/talviuinti Ice swimming information in Finnish
- Kuusijärvi Recreation Centre Vantaa Kuusijärventie 3, 01260. Bus 730 from Helsinki or
Bus 68A from Tikkurila.
Prices and season dates from the Six Lakes Polar Bears Association
www.jaakarhut.fi > Yhteystiedot - Fi
- Oittaa Recreation Area Espoo Kunnarlantie 33-39, 02740.
- Hotelli Nuuksio
Hotel adjacent to the Nuuksio National Park offers ice swimming in winter
www.hotellinuuksio.fi > English
Akilles, a famous sports club in Porvoo - about 50km east of Helsinki - was founded in 1902 and is firmly established as Porvoo's leading sports club. The club is divided into 8 sections: cycling, bandy, football, handball, orienteering, country skiing, track & field and outdoor sports.
Cycling has been Akilles' most successful
sport; 7 of their cyclists have taken part in the Olympic
Games and 12 have participated in World Championships.
This is not really a 'Finnish sports' club but for many people it will be of interest for its proud history.
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