With most of Finland experiencing winter for more than half the year, it is easy to understand why winter sports are so very popular in this country.
In Lapland, Northern Finland, you’ll experience winter for more than 7 months a year. Despite this, in 2019 Finland was ranked as the happiest country in the world – and it shows that they make the best of every opportunity. When its snows, they get their winter jackets on and head outdoors to have in nature and take part in health and fitness activities. Snow and ice don’t stop the Finns from being a sports-mad nation.
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Finnish sports and health activities are largely the same as the rest of the world – but they do have peculiar winter sports that are only found in Finland.
Tour skating is incredibly popular. With 177,000 lakes in Finland and something around 388,000 islands in this country, winter sets in for 5 to 7 months a year to freeze those lakes solid. Tour skating is a fitness and health pastime that also brings the enjoyment of outdoors and nature. Participants use these lakes to travel across them to the small islands dotted in the lakes or to skate to nearby villages, towns and cities. Tour skating is similar to cross-country skiing, but it is a leisure activity instead of a timed race or event.
Ice swimming is particularly popular with women in Finland. As it sounds, it is swimming in ice holes cut into frozen lakes and rivers, and sometimes swimming pools. Participants swim a certain distance in these rivers, lakes, and pools in the holes cut in the ice. Competitors actually race each other across these sections. It sounds cold and painful – but the participants swear by its health and rejuvenating properties.
Swamp soccer is played in swamps, of course. However, when playing in winter, the game’s difficulty is increased. Players aim to score goals – just as in regular soccer – but they have to face muddy, frozen swamps as their playing pitches. Quite fun, very tiring, and a crazy sport to watch.
Disc golf – also known as frisbee golf – is popular as a year-round pastime in Finland. It is most popularly played in winter on sports grounds, camping areas, ski resorts, public parks, and in designated disc golf parks. Similar to golf, the aim is for your disc to land inside the goal in as few throws as possible. The playing areas can be huge and that makes the game more interesting. This is the fastest-growing sport in Finland – and it has also attracted some attention in other areas of the world.