Sunday, 23 February 2014

Misery on Ice or How Finland Won Olympic Bronze in Ice-Hockey

I know this post is a bit like London buses, you wait for ages for one then two come along at once. Last time I wrote about ice-hockey was in 2011, and here I am writing two posts back to back in 2014!

But as you must know by now, ice-hockey is more than sport to me. It reminds me of my childhood, it's part of who I am, and it makes me proud to be Finnish.

Yesterday's bronze medal match between Finland and the US, where Finns thrashed the Americans, was dubbed by the BBC commentator as 'Misery on Ice', but to me it was just a delight to watch.

Here was a team of players which included Teemu Selänne, the worlds most decorated ice-hockey player, and a veteran (he is 43 years old, in theory far too old to be still active in this, one of the most physically aggressive sports), and two others for whom this match was going to be their national swan song. They weren't easily going to give up on an Olympic medal.

But only a day before this same team (although without the wondrous goalie Tuukka Rask) suffered a dispiriting defeat against our bitter old adversaries, the Swedes, and thus missing out on gold or silver. According to Selänne, the team decided in the dressing room just before going out to face the Americans, that they were going to take the bronze - no messing.

History has shown that when Finns en masse decide something, they rarely fail. 

And what a match it was! I could barely watch when in an unusual sequence of events in the second half, with the score still at 0-0, the Finnish player Kimmo Timonen moved a broken stick left on the ice and it hit the puck being manoeuvred by a US player, resulting in a penalty shot against the Finns. When Patrick Kane failed to score, I had a feeling this was a crucial psychological moment for the US team. I was proved right; Finland scored two goals in quick succession and in the third period made the final score a joyous 5-0!

The Finns on ice looked the better team, but you could also tell that, unlike the Americans, they really, really wanted to win.

As if Teemu Selänne, who scored two of the five goals, wasn't a complete star in Finland already, he will be now. Here is an interview with him and some of the other team members after the match. Even if you don't speak Finnish, you'll enjoy watching these tough guys get emotional in front of the camera - except for the hero of the day, Selänne of course. He just makes the reporter weep, saying, 'I promised myself I would't cry, so I won't.'

That's Sisu for you!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Helena .. I'm so pleased the Finns got their bronze medal .. just excellent news - spread the success around .. as you say the Finns wanted it more and did win.

I've enjoyed what I saw of the Olympics ... but Putin is another 'chap' ... You will know much more about him than I do .. but I found this New Yorker article quite interesting ..

Cheers and have a coffee, or a vodka for me! Hilary

Helena Halme said...

Thanks Hilary, that article is interesting!