Cross-country skiing (“hiihto”) is a very popular winter sport in Finland – it’s not unusual to share the bus or tram with someone carrying a set of skis (and after heavy snow you might actually see someone skiing on the pavement).
It turns out that Helsinki can be a great place for cross-country skiing in years of good snow – there are about 700 km of potential ski tracks around the Helsinki metropol (“potential” depending on snowfall). You can find all of the official ski routes, and check their status, on the excellent mSki website (here – you can also see the status of the long-distance skating tracks on its sister site mSkate). There’s even a 110 km continuous track across city (the Reitti 2000 route).
This winter’s snow arrived late and is now melting away rapidly, but I really enjoyed the short skiing season. In January, Miska taught me the basics at Paloheinä (the best place to learn I think – and you can even rent skis there), and since then I’ve also been skiing in Laakso (the closest track to home) and at Arabiaranta (close to my office). These are all places that we went walking around in summer (see our posts here, here and here), but they are completely different under a meter of snow! Today was a particularly special skiing outing because Brigitte came along for her first cross-country ski – despite the slushy conditions (its been above zero for much of this week) she learnt the basics quickly.
If you’re visiting Finland in summer but still wanting to give cross-country skiing a try, you can always visit the Ylläs indoor ski track in northern Helsinki (although check that it is still in business…).
Many thanks to our friend Michal who passed his skis on to me when he left Helsinki – I’ve put them to good use! Just a pity the skiing season is coming to an end now in southern Finland…