Skiing in Southern Finland: Lahti: The Best Place for Skiing and Winter Sports in Southern Finland.
Swishing down the un-crowded slopes of the Messilä ski resort in Lahti, Finland last Easter weekend (in April) in a lightweight fleece jacket and sunglasses, I thought that skiing in the Alps is many a skier’s dream, but I like skiing southern Finland because it is so much closer to my home in Helsinki, there is more snow later into the season, it is cheaper than resorts in Austria or France, and the rustic atmosphere is a relaxing change from the poshness of certain Alpine resorts. Not only is it more convenient option, there are lots of other things to do in Lahti if you know where to look.
Southern Finland’s longest downhill ski runs are in Messilä. There are ten runs ranging from beginner to advanced. Each run has a t-bar ski lift, with snowboarders and downhill skiers sharing the runs. The runs are challenging for beginning and intermediate skiers, while advanced skiers might only be entertained on the slopes for a day.
Cross Country/Nordic Skiing
Messilä has great cross country trails, home to international Nordic skiing competitions. The trails, which wind through snow covered forests, are groomed and lit. The trails vary in length from beginner to advanced. The intermediate and advanced trails are true to their name – they are peppered with hills – both uphill and downhill. Skiing on the Bay of Lahti, when it freezes, is great for beginner skiers or those who want a flat surface to gain speed without interference from hills.
Lahti has a world class ski jumping facility that has been home to World Cup and other ski jumping competitions. There are three ski jumps (known as Salpausselkä) – 60, 90, and 120 meters – and stands for spectators below. If there are no competitions while you are there, you might catch some ski jumpers at practice. Restaurant Voitto, next to the ski jumps, has a wonderful, inexpensive buffet featuring Finnish cuisine (read reindeer stew, salmon, pike, and potatoes) and an expansive view of the ski jumps with its’ floor to ceiling glass windows.
Simulated ski jumping, practicing your biathlon shooting skills, and simulated slalom skiing are some of the unique offerings at the museum. Learn about the history of competition skiing, the greats of Finnish skiing, or check out the wooden skis and leather ski boots used until the mid twentieth century.
Lahti, Finland is 90 km north of Helsinki on highway 75. Messilä has ski rentals and accommodations. Besides the resort restaurants, the town of Lahti has some dining options. See www.messila.fi for more information on accommodations and other activities.