Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lahti, Finland

I try to stay in touch with my In The Arena 5th grade class as much as possible when I'm away from the classroom. Here's my latest digital scene from the road for Mr. Peck's class at Osborn Elementary in Leavenworth, Washington.

                                                                                                                                       MARCH 9 &10

The next stop in this year’s cross-country world tour for me is Lahti, Finland. The country of Finland sits between Sweden to the west and Russia to the east. Lahti itself sits just a little outside of Finland’s biggest city, Helsinki. Finland itself, and particularly Lahti, is a place known for its forest and lake landscapes that provide a natural living environment. When I first visited Finland, I could understand better one of my favorite architects, Alvar Aalto.

Mr. Aalvo’s architectural style ranged from nordic classicism during the early years of his career, to later on a more organic modernist style. To me, Mr. Aalvo had a genius way of using a site’s available resources. His buildings and housings could arrest your eyes, but also blend into the environment and terrain where it resided. My favorite thing, though, is how he used sunlight. In Finland, especially in the winter, sunlight is a precious commodity. Mr. Aalvo knew how to capture its essence brilliantly.

It doesn’t a visitor to Lahti long to figure out the place is a winter sports city. Right on the edge of town a full compliment of ski jumps sit atop the area’s biggest hill. As an athlete, the venue is almost a metaphor telling a story. There are all sizes of jumps. Off to the ski jumper’s far right, the jump set starts with perhaps a ten meter in-run, then a half-meter jump where five or six year-olds fly through the air for maybe a half-second.  The granddaddy of them all, though, is the K-124. The athletes fly through the air for around five seconds, covering up to a football field-and-a-half on their winning jumps.

Since 1923 the town and venue has played host to the Lahti Ski Games, an annual World Cup event. Tens of thousands of spectators from near and far come here every March to watch the competitions and revel in the streets and nightclubs afterwards. It’s an energetic crowd – and energy that you can feel as a racer, especially when you are having a special day. And it’s one of these days I look to have on both Saturday in the skate sprint, and on Sunday in the 15 kilometer (9.3 mile) classic World Cup.  I have raced here in Lahti many times, though this will be my first time pulling on a racebib here for something other than an individual sprint or a sprint relay.  To new experiences, and new challenges!

SATURDAY, March 9: Skate Sprint Qualification at 11 AM
SUNDAY, March 10: Men’s 15km Classic at 11 AM

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