For 362 days of the year, Lahti is a bustling industrial and commercial centre in South-East Finland but every year during one week-end of March, the city scene changes.
For 362 days of the year, Lahti is a bustling industrial and commercial centre in South-East Finland but every year during one week-end of March, the city scene changes. Tens of thousands of enthusiasts throng to the city for a major fixture in the Finnish winter sports calendar, the traditional Lahti international skiing competition. This year alone nearly 100,000 people came to watch the world's best skiers from 17 countries. A special train brought diplomats attending the Helsinki preparatory talks for the European security conference.
A rare shortage of snow this winter caused something of a head-ache for the organisers. Luckily there were moderate snowfalls before the opening events and just to make sure local lorry owners transported 250 lorry loads of snow to the main competition area. The success of the games is based to a large extent on voluntary efforts. There is a distinct feeling that almost all the people of Lahti are involved in one way or another.
For some years, an obstacle to the development of the Lahti meeting has been the outdated facilities of the ski stadium. Now, however, the events can take place as construction of the new stadium goes ahead. People in the know rate the stadium as one of the best in the world. From the point of view of location it is quite unique, positioned virtually in the centre of the city.
The ski-jumping attracted particularly great interest. The magnificent, new 90-metre jump provides for leaps of close on 120 metres, with a fall in height of as much as 133 metres. This year the swiss jumpers with their alphai experience.
displayed their strength and brought off a double victory. Best was Walter Steiner whose longest jump reached 114 metres. The Finns ran into some bad luck this time, their best jumper finishing only seventh on the 90-metre hill.
The Norwegians have looked unbeatable in the cross-country skiing this year. At Lahti they won both the 15- and 50- kilometre events. The 50-kilometre was won with great stamina and strength by Oddvar Bra, seen here after his victory.
The Finnish girls showed their ability by winning the women's relay and there was another Finnish success on 70-metre jump. This time it was the turn of Tauno Kayhko who's fine technique is seen here in slow motion. (kaykho number 44)
The public seemed pleased with what they saw and their appetites were not overlooked. The organisers laid on thousands of portions of soup and 10 kilometres of sausage. For the thirsty there were over 40,000 cups of coffee and 30,000 glasses of hot fruit juice.