I know there’s been a lot of controversy over these Winter Olympics in Russia, and I understand how many people feel they want to boycott the games. I totally abhor Putin’s politics and can only image what horrors people have to endure merely because of their sexual orientation, or because they want to have the (basic!) right to free speech.
But as a Finn, I am completely hooked on winter sports. I don’t believe that by watching the games I approve of Putin, or condone his actions.
I love skiing of all sorts, but get especially excited about ice-hockey. As a child, growing up in Tampere, known in Finland for its strong tradition in the sport, I went to matches regularly and used to be a passionate Ilves supporter. In winter, I’d wear my Ilves woolly hat and scarf with pride.
Ice-hockey has even infiltrated my fiction. In my story of immigration and family drama, Coffee and Vodka, Pappa takes Eeva to see a Nordic derby match between Finland and Sweden in Stockholm. I won’t tell you what happens, but it’s quite a crucial moment in both Pappa and Eeva’s feeling of displacement.
|Courtesy of Sochi Games
In Sochi this year, Finns have not done as well in the medal tables as they used to. Still, I’m enjoying watching them in action in cross-country skiing, snowboarding and of course ice-hockey where they beat the mighty Russians to get into the semi-finals. Sadly, though, that is where their Olympic Gold medal dreams were crudely taken away – you guessed it – by the
Though absolutely gutted, I’m pleased that we’ll still have the chance of a Bronze.