The International Cross-Country Ski School of Finland was established in 2015 in order to help immigrant children adapt to Finland’s long and harsh winter by teaching them to ski.
During our first winter season, we were able to introduce 14 children to the best of Finland’s winter culture: Cross-Country Skiing. The children were provided with technique training and top-notch equipment. We were fortunate to get some of the country’s top skiers to volunteer, including former Olympians Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Marjo Matikainen-Kalltröm and Martti Jylhä. Some ski retreats were also held in Pajulahti and Kiilopää.
We are in full swing preparing for the upcoming winter seasons. Our first task is to make the integration into the Finnish culture easier by teaching them to ski. The joy of winter sports, getting some new friends and learning more Finnish language and culture are our main goals, as well. Our intention is to register more than 100 children and plenty of adults with the immigrant backgrounds to learn how to cross-country ski and get excited about the winter sports possibilities.
We plan on expanding our activities to include Finnish born youth at risk to drop out from society, as well as, more Immigration Units in different cities of Finland.
What started as a volunteer group has been incorporated into a non-profit organization. We are the International Cross-Country Ski School of Finland.
Anyone wanting to join or volunteer with us can contact us via this website.
Our executive director is an Olympian, former Biathlete Laura Toivanen. In our board of organization, we have Inka Kärkkäinen (Chairwoman), Marjo Matikainen-Kallström, Simo-Viljami Ojanen and Mattias Therman.
“Cross-country skiing is somewhat of a national sport in Finland. It is suitable for everybody and extremely good for the body and mind, with beautiful winter scenery serving as an inspiring backdrop.“
-Founded in September 2015, a group of volunteer private citizens took 14 children out skiing 25 times around the greater Helsinki area. Participants were provided with proper ski equipment and taken on two ski retreats in Häme and Lapland.
-Skiing was taught by a large volunteer group which included multiple Olympic medal winners Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Marjo Matikainen-Kallström. Both feedback and the overall experience were positive overall.
Plan of Action 2020-2021:
We start with the new schools and Immigrant Units during this winter. We aim to have at least 80 children with the immigrant background in the areas of Espoo, Helsinki, Oulu and Rovaniemi and Vantaa.
Our goal is to raise the amount of funding by the crowdfunding campaign and getting new donations. This will enable more activities provided to these children.
We will make some new contracts with the next season’s sponsors (equipment, clothing, transportation etc.) and co-operating with the local sport clubs.
We plan also additional ski days for approx. 100 others and some 2-day ski camps in the Sports Institutes. Also one 2- days ski retreat in Lapland is planned to organize for a smaller group.