ECBU 2013 Country Preview: Finland

by | June 10, 2013, 7:00am 0

Number of active players: 668
Notable beach tournaments:
Yyteri Beach Ultimate (Pori), Hietsu Beach Ultimate (Helsinki), Kalajoki Beach Ultimate (Kalajoki)
Past participation in beach championships:
WCBU 2004, WCBU2011
Division participation at ECBU 2013:
Women, Open Masters

The first place that comes to mind when one thinks about Finland is probably not the beach. The northern climate tends to encourage a whole lot of other activities than spending time barefoot by the sea… but that may be the reason why Finnish ultimate players so cherish beach ultimate.

How's this for beach serenity? The Finnish women's training camp on Yyteri Beach in Pori, Finland

Unlike in the Mediterranean countries, where practically every day is a beach day, the perfect beach days in Finland are few and far between. But when those days happen to coincide with the local beach tournaments – that do exist, mind you – the experience is something hard to repeat in many other locations of the world: a warm summer day with the temperatures somewhere around 25C, a soft breeze blowing in from the Baltic Sea, and your best friends coming together to enjoy beach ultimate in Yyteri Beach, Hietsu Beach, or Kalajoki Beach, followed by a night of partying with the midnight sun never really going down. How could you not fall in love with Finnish beach ultimate?

The Finnish participation in international beach tournaments has mostly been with club teams or in hat tournaments as opposed to national teams. Teams like Maitotytöt in the women’s division and Ässämix in the mixed division have become famous for their success in Paganello, for example. The first official beach championships that Finland sent a team to were in 2004, but the Worlds in 2011 were what really got  the disc rolling for Finnish beach ultimate. The women’s team organized a promotional event for beach ultimate in the heart of Helsinki – with trucks bringing in enough sand for an almost-full-size beach ultimate field in front of the busiest shopping mall in the country.


The Finnish Women's Team for ECBU 2013

Talent takes many forms in the Finnish women’s team heading for ECBU 2013.  The core of the 2013 team is the same as at Beach Worlds 2011 in Italy where Finland took the fifth place after a bitter one-point loss to Germany in the quarters. The players mainly have experience from grass, but when you look at the training camps the team has had this year, the sand doesn’t seem to slow them down the slightest.

This year’s team boasts experieced country representatives from three decades (yes, three!), but the newest rookie has never worn an adult-size national team jersey. Players like Kaisa Rämö, Reija Ylönen, and Pirjo Hästbacka were around to grab gold from European Championships 2003 and silver from Worlds 2004, whereas rookies like Ulla Kiili only stormed in to made their national team debut last year in Japan. And the rookie-ist of them all is Olga Rentto, who has previously only played in junior national teams. The name Sara Wickström is familiar to many, but not only from a Finnish context. Sara is responsible for the latest successes of the German national team, which she coached and played for for many years.

The Finnish “lionesses” aim high and are ready to take it all in Calafell. This cheerful pack finished second in BUM, and is eager to start the hunt for sun, sand, and great layouts in Spain.

For more information and updates from ECBU 2013, make sure to check out the Finnish women’s fan page on Facebook.

Open Masters

When you look at the roster of the Finnish Open Masters team, it’d be easy to think that the team has ended up in the wrong division. The average age is closer to Open Grand Masters than Open Masters, but there are a few pairs of younger legs that make a difference. But as anyone who has watched Masters ultimate knows, the age is just a number, and the Finnish Masters are no exception.

The team has done the majority of the preparation for ECBU2013 fifteen to twenty years ago and spent the last couple of months finetuning teamplay and getting a gentlemanly touch into their game. The team has a number of international medalists from grass championships, sand being a less familiar surface for most players. Most have, however, played a beach tournament or two, some even as recently as within the last five years… Jokes aside, the team counts thousands of championship games played and throwers like Timo Vaskio who have been practicing their art since the late 1970s. They aim their hucks towards youngsters who were born around the same time, namely Timo Paatola and Tuomo Sirkka, to name a few.

The Finnish Masters are after a great tournament experience and a reunion of old teammates, but don’t let the relaxed beach attitude fool you, as these guys go to each game with victory in mind. They do want to go home to their families safe and sound, so keeping all players healthy all the way to the deciding games is also a goal this team wants to achieve.

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