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Tuesday's papers: Mild winter fallout for sports and stores and Beckham in Lapland

Finland's press report on the detrimental effect Finland's unseasonably warm weather is having on sports events and retailers.

Hiihtäjia valmiina aloittamaan hiihtourakkansa.
The Finlandia-hiihto skiing event has been cancelled for the first time in its 47-year history. Image: Elise Tykkyläinen / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat carries a number of stories on the knock-on effects that the mildest winter in living memory is having on life in Finland.

HS reports on the cancellation of Finland’s largest mass skiing event, Finlandia-hiihto or Finlandia ski marathon, which had been due to take place on the weekend of 22-23 February in Lahti.

According to HS, this is the first time in the event’s 47-year history that the organisers have been forced to cancel, and they blamed the unusual weather conditions for scrubbing the race in a press release.

"Winter 2020 has not been kind to skiers around the globe," the press statement reads. "The combination of heavy rainfall and high wind speeds have thawed the tracks into a very poor condition. The weather forecast for the next 10 days shows there is no hope of improvement."

Last year a total of 5,000 skiers took part in the event, and this year 3,000 participants had already registered for the 50-kilometre race. HS writes that local skiing clubs in Lahti and nearby Hollola — the starting and finishing points of the race — will likely suffer financial losses from the cancellation.

"Certainly some of these will come at some level. The calculation will be done more closely in the coming days."

Lack of snow a "catastrophe"

In a separate but related story, HS writes of the impact the lack of snow is having on sports equipment retailers, with purchases of skis and related equipment collapsing in January.

"The winter equipment trade has been a catastrophe," Velimatti Kankaanpää, Managing Director of the Finnish Fashion and Sports Trade Association, told HS, adding that "weather is the biggest influence on the purchase of winter equipment".

HS cites the case of the Norwegian-owned XXL, where trade has been so slow that the retailer is now selling stock at a loss, according to HS. The paper quotes XXL Finland CEO Pasi Lämpsä as describing this winter as a "disaster".

XXL has 17 stores in Finland, with the latest opening in Seinäjoki just last November, but the group face a challenging period ahead after such a slow start to the year.

"We will streamline other parts of the business and create frameworks for employees," Lämpsä explained to HS.

Speedy winger

Tabloid Iltalehti reports that former Manchester United and Real Madrid footballer David Beckham was in Lapland this past weekend as a guest of the British car manufacturer McLaren.

IL writes that Beckham shared a "stunning" video from the trip with his 60 million Instagram followers showcasing Lapland’s "beautiful scenery" as he drove a McLaren car around an icy route in the village of Ivalo.

In the video, the former winger tells his followers that he has been "looking forward to this for a long time" as he is shown speeding around a frozen track.

"It was amazing, I must admit. It’s been such an experience, I'll never forget," IL quotes Beckham as saying.

IL also reports that this is not the global superstar's first time in Finland, as he has previously visited in 2010 to undergo surgery in Turku by the renowned orthopedic surgeon, Professor Sakari Orava.

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