Yle News preview: Finland "confident" Medal success of the Beijing Winter Olympics

Yle News preview: Finland "confident" Medal success of the Beijing Winter Olympics

Finland’s top skiers, skaters and snowboarders are preparing to face 3,000 other athletes from 90 different countries as the Winter Olympics begin in Beijing on Friday, despite the ongoing Covid pandemic and diplomatic boycotts in seven countries.

Finnish athletes also continue the long and proud tradition of the Nordic countries, as Finland has participated – and won medals – in all the Winter Olympics since the first Olympics were held in Chamonix, France in 1924.

Finland’s newest medalists include cross-country and freestyle skiers, figure skaters, downhill jumpers, snowboarders and a total of 48 men’s and women’s hockey players.

Their goal is six medals – one gold, one silver and four bronze medals – which Finland won at the previous Winter Olympics in South Korea. And while expectations are high, Ilkka Palomäki A representative of the Finnish Olympic Committee tells Yle News that there is also trust.

"Four years ago at PyeongChang, we managed to get six medals, and I think the realistic outcome of these games would be about the same. So we are pretty sure we can achieve at least the same result as PyeongChang in 2018," Palomäki says.

The story continues after the picture.

Finnish team at the opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.Christian Bruna / AOP

Finnish athletes also intend to maintain the record set with their neighbor Sweden, as they are the only countries in the history of the Games to have won medals at all the Winter Olympics.

"Only six countries have won more medals than Finland [in Winter Olympics history], and when the all-time medal table with gold medals is set as the highest priority, Finland is the 11th largest ever in the history of the Winter Olympics. So we’re pretty used to success," Palomäki adds.

Which Finns to watch out for this time?

In terms of numbers, this success corresponds to a total of 167 medals from the first winter matches almost 100 years ago, and cross-country skiing, speed skating and ski jumping have over the years proved to be a special medal magnet for Finnish athletes. .

But which events is the Finnish athlete most likely to see on the podium this time?

Cross-country skiing, snowboarding and hockey are the most likely sources of success in Beijing.

Finland has won a medal in each of these three sports at all the Winter Olympics since 2006, and the camp has the confidence to repeat these achievements in 2022.

"When it comes to snowboarding, there it is Rene Rinnekangas on the men’s side and Enni Rukajärvi on the women’s side. They’re both part of a group that can win every race, or at least a medal in every race, and they both compete in Big Air and Slopestyle, so they each have two chances to win a medal." he explains.

The story continues after the picture.

Enni Rukajärvi genome for Hopp.
Snowboarder Enni Rukajärvi in ​​action.Harri Tarvainen / Snowboard Association

Hockey teams also hope to bring home a shiny souvenir. Palomäki states that the men’s team aims to build World Cup gold in 2019 and silver in 2021.

"Winning the World Championship was particularly impressive, as most rival countries were basically NHL-based [the professional ice hockey league in North America] teams and Finland no. And of course this Olympic tournament is played without NHL players, so Finland is one of the favorites," he says.

The women’s hockey team has also performed at a consistently high level in recent years. The last time the team failed to raise a medal from a global tournament was in 2016, when it barely lost in a bronze match against Russia after a penalty shootout.

However, the “Lionesses” retaliated from defeat three years later when they defeated the same opponents in the 4-0 World Cup opening before they became the first European team to ever reach the finals – eventually losing another penalty shot to the United States.

The story continues after the picture.

Finland and the USA start in the middle circle.
The Finnish women’s hockey national team faced the USA in the 2019 World Cup final.Tomi Hänninen

However, the team’s preparation for the matches has been overshadowed by the controversy over the two-time medal winner. Noora Räty.

Coach Pasi Mustonen originally dropped a four-time Olympic winner on the team before offering Ratty a seat as a “first choice alternate” after a backlash from fans and the media. Räty has not responded to the offer, and the cut appears to have weakened the team’s three other goalkeepers.

In cross-country skiing, Finland is also looking for Niskanen’s siblings Krista Pärmäkoski to secure those much-needed seats on the podium.

Iivo Niskanen won the gold medal in the 50km classic at the 2018 Olympics and has finished first, first and second in three World Cup races this season.

His sister, Kerttu Niskanenwon two silver medals in the 2014 games in Sochi in Sochi, while Pärmäkoski already has two bronzes and two silver medals, and he personally accounted for half of Finland’s 2018 medal winner.

"Krista Pärmäkoski is a possible medal at almost every distance," Palomäki says.

The story continues after the picture.

Iivo Niskanen for the 2018 Olympic gold medal
Iivo Niskanen will celebrate gold in 2018.Getty Images

Among other athletes, Palomäki states this Tero Seppälä have done "great progress" biathlon – an event combining cross-country skiing and shooting – during the past season Ilkka Herola aims for gold in a Nordic recurring event.

Covid concern and diplomatic boycott

However, it is not about the glory of sport. The Beijing Winter Olympics are held under two big, dim shadows.

The first is the Covid pandemic, which is now in its third year. Many of the Finnish athletes and backroom staff had to isolate themselves up to two weeks before the scheduled departure date, which brings with it various challenges in preparing for a top sporting event.

For example, the combination skier Herola received a positive virus test in January and suffered an eager wait before the result was negative just in time to participate.

At least two other Finnish athletes have also had a virus-positive test and have had to withdraw from the games.

However, Palomäki said many Olympics – especially those competing in individual sports – have become accustomed to training in the conditions caused by the pandemic over the past two years, and he adds that Beijing organizers have sought to ensure a non-infectious epidemic.

"The biggest concern was getting into the ground. This [the accommodation at the games] is the covid safest place in the world right now, in this bubble where we live. Everything in this bubble is tested for Covid-19 every day and any countermeasures are taken," he says.

The story continues after the picture.

Corona test on the life of the Beijing Olympic Games bubble.
Covid tests are performed every day in the Olympic Village.Valery Sharifulin / TASS / Getty Images

Another shadow hovering over the games is a diplomatic boycott by, for example, the US, Canada, the UK and Australia. The boycott means the countries will send athletes to the Games, but no ministers or officials will be present.

BBC reported that the U.S. authorities called for a boycott of China "human rights violations and atrocities in Xinjiang" against the Muslim population of the province during the United Kingdom Express one’s opinion Against China "industrial-scale human rights abuses in the Uighur region of Tibet and sending almost daily military incursions into Taiwanese airspace;".

For its part, Finland has decided not to join the boycott with the Minister of Culture and Sports Antti Kurvinen (Cen) initially said he intended to attend the closing ceremony.

"It is the main event of winter sports for athletes, their background teams and those interested in sports, and has traditionally been attended by the Finnish Minister for Sport," Kurvinen told Yle in January.

Later, however, Kurvinen canceled his plan to attend the event because he feared being quarantined while traveling.

Palomäki says the athletes should not be blamed for the Beijing Olympics, as they have worked hard to earn the right to compete at the top level.

"COPD [International Olympic Committee] has made the decision to give the games to China and Beijing, and that’s it. Athletes are here to compete and for most of them this is the biggest competition of their lives and I think everyone should respect it." he says.

Highlights of the Winter Olympics schedule for Finnish athletes and teams

The Beijing Winter Olympics are widely covered – up to 300 hours of competition over 14 days – on Yle TV, and the majority of broadcasts are broadcast on TV2.

The matches can also be watched online at Yle Areena.

Below is a selection of the most important events for Finnish athletes. All times are Finnish time.

Thursday, February 3:

13.45 Men’s Moguls Qualifiers 1 – Olympic Freestyle Skiing Included Olli Penttala, Jimi Salonen, Severi Vierelä

15.10 Women & # 39; s Prelim. Round – Group A Finland vs USA

Saturday, February 5:

04.45 Women’s Snowboard Qualifying Round – Carola Niemelä, Enni Rukajärvi

06.10 Women & # 39; s Prelim. Round – Group A Finland vs Canada

08.20 Men & # 39; s Indiv. Sprint C Antti Aalto, Niko Kytösaho

Sunday, February 6:

03.30 Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Finals – (?) Niemelä, Rukajärvi

06.30 Men’s Snowboard Qualifying Round – Rene Rinnekangas, Kalle JärvilehtoMonday, February 7:

Monday, February 7:

06.00 Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Final – (?) Lake grove, Chest fabric

15.10 Women & # 39; s Prelim. Round – Group A Finland vs Switzerland

Tuesday, February 8:

13.47 Women’s Sprint F Final Cross Country

14.00 Men’s Sprint Finals Cross-Country Skiing

15.10 Women & # 39; s Prelim. Round – Group A Finland vs ROC

Thursday, February 10:

10.40 Men & # 39; s Prelim. Round – Group C Finland vs Slovakia

Friday, February 11:

15.10 Men’s Hockey Group C Finland vs Latvia

Sunday, February 13:

10.40 Men & # 39; s Prelim. Round – Group C Finland vs Sweden

Monday, February 14:

03.30 Women’s Snowboard Big Air Qualifier – Niemelä, Rukajärvi

07.30 Men’s Snowboard Big Air Qualifier – Chest fabric, Lake grove

Monday, February 15:

03.30 Women’s Snowboarding Big Air Final – (?) Niemelä, Rukajärvi

07.00 Men’s Snowboard Big Air Final – (?) Chest fabric, Lake grove

Source: The Nordic Page

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