Ice hockey is the national Finnish sport and is played by a large number of people: thirty thousand school-age children are enrolled in a club. In Oulu, on the Gulf of Bothnia (200 km from Rovaniemi, capital of Lapland and home of Father Christmas) the cold temperatures are a blessing for hockey players who can train outdoors. With electricity prices skyrocketing, to avoid incurring energy costs that have become prohibitive, the local Ahmat team has relocated its activity to the outdoor rink. In Finland, the consumer experiences an average annual bill increase of 40-60%, but if the club had opened its rink indoors, it would have tripled its energy costs for the season to EUR 150000. Ahmat is a small club with 400 members, but this team’s choice is not an isolated one: this winter, the football pitches are converted into hockey rinks. From this corner of Finland, great champions like Sakari Manninen, world champion 2022 and 2019, and Olympic champion at the Beijing Winter Games, have taken their first steps. With the rink closed, the number of players is decreasing a lot, but the fears are especially for 2023, when the costs could rise again. The Hockey Federation is urging clubs to save energy, but is also appealing to municipal authorities to keep tariffs at a reasonable level. The Finnish energy context is being affected by the repercussions of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine: Helsinki has stopped importing Russian electricity and started a campaign to save energy in the country, which has not happened since the oil crisis in the 1970s.
Finland, Ice Hockey, Ostrobothnia, Rovaniemi, Sports