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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: LAHTI SKI GAMES FROM FINNLAND!

Friday, March 28, 2014

LAHTI SKI GAMES FROM FINNLAND!







   Lahti Ski Games is a yearly international winter sport event. The games last for three days, during which participants compete in cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. In the nearly 90-year history of the Lahti Ski Games the fireworks seen on Saturday night have become one of the highlights of the event. The goal of establishing the games was to get a competition similar to the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Finland.
   The idea for the games came from a Finnish legend, Lauri Pihkala in 1922. He wrote an article about a competition equal to the Holmenkollen Ski Festival after the double win of Anton Collin and Tapani Niku at Holmenkollen the same year. In the article Pihkala suggested Lahti as the location for the competition because of the city’s location and grounds.











First Competition Ever Held
   The first Lahti Ski Games was held 3–4 February 1923. From the very beginning volunteers have played a big part in arranging the games. At the first Lahti Ski Games only Finnish competitors attended the event, but it was still a success. From then on the citizens were encouraged to flag during the competition weekend so that the city would look its best.

History

   Competitors from other countries took part in the games for the first time in 1926. The games were FIS congress competition, which attracted competitors from 15 different countries. The Sport center where the games are held was now improved. The local schools were turned into accommodation as the students were on holiday.
   The games lived through a quieter time period between the late 1960s and the early 1970s. It was time to develop marketing for the event and as a result additions to the program of the games were made in order create more entertainment value.
   When the new millennium was approaching it was becoming clear that the games were not as visible in the city profile as before. According to speculations one of the reasons might be that the popularity of televised sport events kept the fans at home. The Saturday night ski jumping competition as well as the fireworks seen on the same night, have nonetheless remained popular among the public.

 Salpausselkä Station

   For many years the public came to the games from far, oftentimes by skiing. The crowds were also transported by a special train that came directly into a station at the Sport center. The Salpausselkä station was built in 1938 and it later relocated in 1957. Nowadays the station is replaced merely by a halt, which no longer has regular train traffic. The tracks are still partially in place.











Games Cancellations
   The games have only been cancelled three times: first in 1930 because of the lack of snow and in 1940 due to the Winter War. In 1942 there were no normal Lahti Ski Games held.

 Radio and television

   The first time the Lahti Ski Games was ever broadcasted was in 1932. It made the games national. In 1959 the games were televised live. However, it wasn’t until 1971 that the live televising was extended to cover footage also straight from the skiing tracks.

 Sport

   Today participants compete in cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. The sports in which athletes compete at Lahti Ski Games have gone through many changes throughout the games’ history. In the early years participants competed in the original 50 kilometer skiing. It was arranged for the last time in 1986. There have also been men’s 30 and 10 km, as well as the women’s 5 km. The seniors and youngsters had their own tour. In the 1938 Championships also slalom was competed in. In 1970 the evening’s ski-jumping competition became the official team competition. In 2000 sprint was introduced.











 Sport Center

   Many changes have taken place at the Sport center over the years. Jumps over 50 meters became possible when the hill was raised in 1931. Several years later a new hill was constructed. It was raised again for the 25th anniversary Lahti Ski Games in 1947. Lahti city constructed the current hill during 1971–1972, and it was improved again later in 1998.

Lahti Folk Celebration

   The fireworks have gained a lot of popularity since the first time they were seen in 1934. Before the people got to see the fireworks a torch parade went through the city from the city hall all the way to the pit of the hill, i.e. the out-run at the Sport center. A million Finnish marks were charged for the 15 minutes long fireworks show. During 1942–1945 the fireworks were not organized.

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