By Teemu Virtanen
FINLANDIA-HIIHTO BECOMES CARBON NEUTRAL
The global warming is a hot topic in any coffee table conversations, and our concern for the wellbeing of our planet is widely spread in every corner of the world. Pollution is the greatest enemy of our civilization and we fight for a better future where our children can still breath fresh air and enjoy the perks of nature.
The waste disposal has also become a topic under scrutiny in many long distance ski events as thousands of participants leave behind a trail of garbage in the form of empty gel containers, disposable drinking cups and energy bar wrappings. Vasaloppet has special zones for littering, and there are even discussions about possible penalties for throwing out any waste on the course. Many other Visma Ski Classics events, for example Ylläs-Levi, are following Vasaloppet’s footsteps and coming up with areas where littering is only allowed during the race.
Now, the biggest ski race in Finland, Finlandia-Hiihto, wants to take a huge step forward and become a completely waste-free event. The organizers put their focus on proper waste management, and every feeding station will have designated trash bins for every type of waste.
“Finlandia-Hiihto, like any other long distance ski race, produces a huge amount of special kind of waste,” the marketing director Hannu Viitala says. “By 2020, our event leaves a carbon footprint to be proud of. We aim to have no waste and our participants know what it means to be a clean event. This year, we will only hand out warnings for those who litter, but the following year there will be time penalties.”
The carbon footprint Viitala refers to can now be measured and compensated by a special mechanism aiming to reduce air-born pollution. From now on, this measurement will be conducted by Finlandia-Hiihto’s partner Lassila & Tikanoja and it will be done every year to ensure that the event stays waste-free.
No littering policy is not the only step that Finlandia-Hiihto is taking in the future. Being one of the founding members of Worldloppet and a historic race, the organizers are keen on finding ways to become part of the prestigious family of Visma Ski Classics.
“Lahti is one of the world’s prominent cross-country skiing locations,” Viitala continues. “We have hosted the World Championships more times than any other city, and our Finlandia-hiihto is the biggest ski event in the country. Naturally, we have our eyes on Visma Ski Classics and it is great to see how well Ylläs-Levi is currently doing. To have the finale in Finland means a lot to our Nordic skiing culture, and there is room for more VSC events in Finland. We just have to explore potential avenues for participating in the tour. It is certainly our hope and aim to join one way or another.”
Finlandia-Hiihto takes place a week before Vasaloppet on February 23-24, 2019. More information about the event can be found at www.finlandiahiihto.fi.