Monday, October 09, 2006

Finland - LAHTI

Once upon a time, I lived in Lahti. I have many fond memories from Lahti - including the tall, handsome Finn who lived in my kerrostalo (apartment building.) My roommates and I cleverly called him Pitkä Mies (Tall Man,) or simply Pitkä (Tall.) He had the bluest eyes and the most gorgeous build, and when he smiled... ahhhh... sorry. Where was I?

Oh, yes. Lahti. One of the other cool things about Lahti were the ski jumps. Lahti is famous for their Sports Centre, which features three tall ski jumps that tower over the city. The first time I ever became interested in ski jumping was in Lahti. You can imagine how excited I was to return to Lahti after all these years and visit the Sports Centre again.

As many of you know, I'm just completing work on my next book, S.A.S.S. - THE FINNISH LINE, which is set in Lahti. It's about a ski jumper from Park City, Utah who studies abroad in Finland, and gets the opportunity to jump in the Lahti Ski Games. I came back to Lahti to make sure I got the feel of the place right, and to visit with a trainer from the Lahti Ski Club, Kathleline Jongeling, who was kind enough to spend time with me to make sure I got the technical parts of the jumping thing right. She even had me climb up onto the ramp on one of the hills so that I could see how a jumper would gauge their takeoff. Thanks, Kata!

To the right is Kata. I was lucky to have met her when I did because she will be returning to Holland in a few weeks to train young jumpers in her homeland.

Here I am to the left in front of the ski jumps. Woo hoo!

This sign outside the hockey arena says "long live Finland." I second that, and add, "Long live Lahti!"

And long live Pitkä, wherever you are...