Mirror mirror on the wall, who are the best ones on the ice of ’em all?
Looking for the secret potion to success.
This year the Ice Hockey World Championships are hosted in the country of great bakeries, high three-angle buildings and red wine. Already ringing bells? Yes, the world championship tournament of ice hockey is hosted in Paris, France. Even though the local sports papers rather have their local football matches recognized over the world championships, this is a big deal. The annual event brings together not only the best ice hockey teams but also around 650 million viewers. The most exciting event of the year for ice hockey nations.
So during this 16-day-tournament, where should we glue our eyes on, who should we be the most intimidated by and the most interested in? For anyone that has ever watched any ice hockey, it is quite clear that the biggest countries are also the biggest countries in ice hockey. Reminds me of a dear friend of mine that once asked during an European ice hockey match, which one of the teams was the NHL. God rest her soul.
Out of the population of 321 million or 144 million it is quite easy to pick the most potential professionals. Makes sense that Russia and USA are annually performing quite well, right?
When it comes to countries whose citizens basically learn to walk on ice or snow, would be easy to assume that on ice they are also natural talents with a stick in their hands. Yes, guys, talking about the ice hockey stick. Yet the countries like Norway or Iceland have never made it to the podium. This again doesn’t make sense! These Vikings had their whole lives to practice, whenever and wherever they wanted.
And what about this God forsaken country called Finland? It hasn’t placed lower than on the 7th place in the last 67 years and has had its players standing on the podium 13 times in the last 25 years. In the overall victories they are standing third, only behind Canada and Russia, one championship ahead of USA.
If you google-investigate Finland due to a thirst for their secrets, you will probably be disappointed and just be told that this country of 5,4 million citizens is best known for its lakes, heavy metal music, saunas, high alcohol consuming and dominating position in sports called wife carrying. Oh, not to forget about Nokia and Angry Birds. None of these accomplishments on the other fields really explain why this teeny tiny population keeps producing great teams and individuals, time after time. Also in a sense of recycling; look at the comebacks of the Finnish NHL star Teemu Selanne, time after time.
Who knows, maybe it’s the heavy metal that pushes them during practices? Or maybe they receive small amounts of Koskenkorva (the most consumed spirit in the country) already in the breast milk which causes some kind of mutations. Okay, we are taking this a bit far. But what is the secret then for performing so well and what could other countries learn from the Finnish style of doing things?
Firstly, Finland has more registered ice hockey players than any other European country. In Finland you have almost 76 thousand players while in Germany the number is just above 25K.
Secondly, the past of beating the Soviet Union cannot be ignored; there is something about the mentality of starting as the underdog that pushes the fellows into great achievements. In Finland you have a term called ‘sisu’ that stands for extraordinary determination, courage and resoluteness in the face of extreme adversity. In practice, sisu enables individuals to see beyond their limitations and into what might be if taking against the odds.
So, for you thirsty fellows looking for the victory potion on ice, there is no hocus pocus trick. I guess what we can take from the Finnish ice hockey players is the hard work and mindset while appreciating the team mates and respecting the coaches’ knowledge.
Finns may not go and win every game but be aware of this; when you think you have shaken these fellows off your shoulders, have another look over your shoulder. They wear a lion on their shirts for a reason…
Psssst. This is the actual secret to Finnish success. Please don’t tell anyone. Especially Swedes.