An amazing light somewhere between dog and wolf all through the short winter day, an omnipresent nature, an almost invisible sun, Ruka announces the color to its guests. Throughout the Finnish ski resort, streamers display the GPS coordinates that make the site famous: 69 ° North / 29 ° East. No way to be mistaken about the latitude of the place: welcome to the Arctic Circle. Welcome to Lapland ...
Every winter, an hour's flight north from the capital Helsinski in Northern Finland, the best cross-country skiers, skiers and ski jumpers meet for the traditional opening of the World Cup. End of November. A key date both expected and feared by the athletes: "Kuusamo is often a very difficult start, the Scandinavians are back strong, everyone is sharp for the first races and not to spoil the tracks is difficult, "says Roddy Darragon. Darragon, an Olympic silver medalist in the sprint from Turin, goes there as a technician for a ski brand. For equipment manufacturers too, it is important not to miss this start followed by many media. "Like the athletes, it's a way to validate the work done in the manufacturing workshops this summer. Brand representatives are sometimes as excited as runners," he smiles.
More than an appointment, Ruka is an atmosphere ... Northeast in the fifth largest country in the European Union bordered by the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Finland, Russia, Norway and Sweden, the north unveils its forest and lake landscape; no less than 3000 lakes are referenced in Finland!
Softwood forests, mainly fir trees, extend as far as the eye can see in a cold environment, frozen by the ambient cold. At this time of the year, the thermometer does not exceed the zero-degree bar for a long time, just as the sun rarely exceeds the horizon for more than an hour a day. "And still," breathes Jean-Pierre Giachino, technician for the French team of cross-country skiing. "I have been a dozen times here and saw the sun only twice. The weather is often overcast or snowy. It is also what makes the charm of places."
A very Nordic atmosphere typical of the Kuusamo region, the main city of around 17,000 souls located 20 km from Ruka: "The atmosphere and the scenery resemble what we find in Sweden except here it is is in the Finnish sauce: it is colder and noticeably more night! Says Moah Hoja, a journalist covering the world cup for a newspaper in northern Sweden. She also finds in the Nordic rivalry between Sweden, Finland and Norway unlimited material for her articles: "Our countries love to hate ... forever. And it's the same for skiers! "
A unique cozy atmosphere
"This cozy atmosphere is unique on the World Cup circuit," says Nordic combined media coordinator Silke Tegethof. Here it is early night, people are close, keep warm, like to spend time together, share a tea ... I love this atmosphere. And most importantly, there is Santa Claus and his wife who are present every year. This is a peculiarity of Ruka. "
*For the complete article at nordicmag.info click HERE.