Monday, 16 May 2011

My Ice Hockey World Cup Final

Last night, Finland triumphed against arch rivals Sweden in Bratislava (Slovakia) to win the ice-hockey world cup for only the second time.

As a finnophile, I would have dearly loved to have watched the game live in some sports-bar in Finland or with Finnish expats in a pub in the UK.

But I couldn't.

Ever since I started travelling to Finland regularly, I have heard from Finns about the mythical Finnish world-cup win against Sweden IN SWEDEN in 1995. The way they talked about it, it seemed like a defining moment in Finnish history, alongside gaining independence in 1917 and holding back the Soviet army in 1940.

So on Friday, when I heard on that Finland had reached the finals by beating Russia (extra sweetness) and would be facing Sweden, I knew this was a historical moment. The problem was that I was already booked to fly from the UK to Finland at precisely the time of the game.

In a desperate attempt to get to see the game, I got to London’s Heathrow hours early, hoping to get onto an earlier flight. But no luck.

So the build-up to the game took place while I sat, bored, in Heathrow’s Terminal 3. By the time the pilot announced the result of the first period (0-0), I was somewhere over Denmark. When the pilot informed us the second period had ended 1-1, I was over Sweden.

The next announcement came when the plane reached the gate at Helsinki’s airport: the news that Finland was leading 3-1 prompted a huge cheer from the passengers.

The rest of the game ,I spent waiting for a taxi – of course, only very few taxi-drivers would chose to work as such a historical event unfolded. While I was waiting, some people in the line in front of me were listening to the radio, and shouting out the results: 4-1, 5-1 and finally 6-1! A triumph!

The game was now finished and suddenly the taxis started appearing!

At least I got the chance to head into Helsinki city centre as the celebrations started around midnight. And it was crazy! Cars beeping their horns, huge crowds of people shouting and singing and a lot of alcohol consumption. The celebrations went on well into the night and certainly rivalled Vappu in terms of crowds, noise and drunken behaviour!
Celebrations on Esplanadi, Helsinki
I was glad I was able to witness at least a small part of that significant moment in Finnish history.

Suomi jääkiekon maailmanmestari 2011 – Finland ice-hockey world champion 2011!


  1. I understand your predicament.As a British Expatriate in Finland,I need advance warnings of Rugby matches playiong at Twickenham,such as the British Lions.
    Suffice to say iot was a great victory for Finland and I watchjed it live in my local pub in Helsinki
    Great sense of comradeship
    Well Done

    Best Regards

  2. I watched it on the laptop, plugged into the TV, with my Finnish girlriend and some friends. The Finns refused to believe they would win until the last minute, and treated every goal like it was just adding to the inevitable pain of defeat.

    What good rugby pubs are there in Helsinki btw? I was there for the six nations last year and ended up in residency at the Aussie bar.


  3. Molly Malone's usually shows the rugby, but the neither the screen nor the place are big!