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Finland's Olympic let-down

As Norway and Sweden win medal after medal, Finland is far, far behind in the medal table. The Finnish Olympic committee admits the results are disappointing.

Ihmiset kuvasivat olympiarenkaita Etelä-Korean Gangneungissa 4. helmikuuta.
Image: Sergei Ilnitsky / EPA

In the race for Olympic medals Finland has had a disappointing time of it, ranking 23rd in the medal table with four bronze medals. Ahead of Finland by two places is Australia, a country better known for success in the summer Olympics. There are only five countries trailing behind Finland: Spain, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Liechtenstein.

By Thursday morning Finland’s neighbour Sweden had already assembled five gold and four silver medals. Norway on the other hand has 33 medals already under its belt, leading the score table with a vast lead of nine medals. Which begs the question: why, with very similar populations does Finland has only one tenth of their fjordly neighbour’s medals?

”That’s the big difference in comparison right there, and Norway has nailed everything. It also reflects how important world-class sports are in their culture, and that is now bearing fruit. A lot of it is hard work, the right choices and suitable conditions,” pondered Mikko Salonen, president of the Olympic committee.

Dashed hopes

The last time Finland was ahead of Norway in the Olympic medal rankings was during the 1988 Calgary Olympics where Finland ranked fourth while Norway trailed in 12th place.

Going into the Olympics, Finland's Olympic committee was hoping to bag six to seven medals from their top sports. Currently those dreams are slipping through Finland’s fingers unless the remaining competitors manage to nab medals in their respective sports.

The biathlon results were a let-down as Kaisa Mäkäräinen, who impressed in the 2017-18 Biathlon World Cup, gave a tepid performance. The women’s ski relay team flopped and the men's ice hockey defeat in the quarter-finals hurt the medal totals.

A lot of hope was placed in the snowboarders, however the only accomplishments to show were Enni Rukajärvi’s bronze medal and Peetu Piiroinen’s spot in the finals.

For Finland to move up in the Olympic ranks and meet their medal expectations, Finnish competitors need to have a successful weekend. The pressure is therefore now on skiers Krista Pärmäkoski and Iivo Niskanen, without forgetting speed skater Mika Poutala in the men's 1,000 meter race.

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