Skip to content
The article is more than 12 years old

Olympic Stadium Hosts Winter Classic

Ice hockey returned to Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday, after a gap of seventy years. Helsinki's Jokerit took on their city rivals HIFK in Finland’s first ever Winter Classic (Talviklassiko) in front of 36,000 fans on a temporary rink at the iconic football and athletics venue. Before the match police had to seperate rival supporters who threw bottles. Fans from the opposing sides then took separate routes into the stadium.

Helsinki can expect to set a new Nordic attendance record for outdoor hockey, as there will be more people than the 31,144 that watched Frolunda Indians take on Färjestad at the Gamla Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg last season, the Nordic countries' previous outdoor game in the modern era.

Both teams reported good ice conditions after their practice sessions on Friday, and with the temperature expected to be around five degrees below freezing on Saturday evening, that should continue.

The game has spawned all manner of nostalgic spinoffs on top of the standard tickets going for between 29 and 39 euros and the VIP packages on top. Game-worn shirts will be auctioned off online to raise funds for a multicultural hockey association. The shirts are not festooned with adverts, as Finnish hockey jerseys usually are, so they are expected to be quite collectible.

Not everyone has been entirely happy in the run-up to the match. Jokerit fans were informed by fire officials that the display they had planned was a fire risk and would not be allowed at the stadium. They responded by walking out of their home game against HIFK last Saturday. They will not now organise a display at the Olympic Stadium.

Whatever happens on the ice, the game is likely to be a bit more even than the last match played at the stadium - an 11-0 defeat for Finland against Sweden back in 1941.

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia

The city-owned Helsinki City Housing Company Heka says that rents for its more than 1,600 flats will rise because of higher operating costs and interest rates.