“Next year some Kenyan gorillas will attack”

Organizing the cross-country stadium sprint has been full of challenges.

Jari-Pekka Jouppi, commercial director of the skiing association, regretted the challenges. Tomi Natri / AOP

The cross-country stadium sprint was organized for the second time ever on Wednesday, when the skiers competed at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium.

The event was organized for the first time last year at the end of February. Commercial director of the Ski Association Jari-Pekka Jouppi regretted the challenges that occurred during the organization of the event.

– First there was a pandemic last year. On the same day as the stadium sprint, Russia invaded Ukraine. This year there was a recession, a train strike and it was still raining in the afternoon, when even the last ones were thinking about going to the event. It feels like a curse is on, Jouppi said and continued:

– Next year, some Kenyan gorillas will probably attack Finland when we organize the event. This is a sad joke.

On Wednesday, there really weren’t any real spectators at the stadium. Jouppi estimated that almost 5,000 people had come to watch the race.

– We had more than 20,000 fewer people than who bought tickets. On Friday, when news of the train strike came, we received more than 1,700 cancellations of purchased tickets. It was not possible for everyone to come with their own car or bus. We took an outrageous amount in terms of audience numbers.

The event was organized with funding from sponsors. In that case, the income received from the number of spectators does not determine how the Ski Federation will fare financially when organizing the event.

– Otherwise, this would go badly, Jouppi said.

According to Joupi, the biggest challenge in organizing the event is the rent of the Olympic stadium, which is reasonably high.

How much is the rent?

– A six-figure sum, Jouppi answered.

The third stone leg

Jouppi said that the Ski Association’s strategy includes giving people the opportunity to ski.

Traditionally, the competitions are held in the middle of the forest, but according to Joupi, the association wanted to turn the situation upside down and bring the competition to the middle of Helsinki.

During March, people have been able to ski in the Olympic stadium. The stadium sprint was part of a larger whole.

Jouppi could not say how much the Ski Federation will take financially from Wednesday’s event alone.

– When we look at our whole event, we have nothing to worry about. We’ll be fine.

Jouppi described that the cornerstones of the association’s finances are the Ruka and Salpausselkä competitions.

– This (stadium sprint) needs to build a third leg. This needs to be more successful and get more income so that it is a solid foundation in the future.

Johannes Kläbo won the men’s sprint last year and this year at the Olympic Stadium. Picture from last year. KIMMO BRANDT / AOP