Ikineuvos and hiihtoneuvos legacy skiers, and winners

Juha Jokinen interviewing skier Pauli Siitosta in 1977. Photo Collection of Lahti City Museums.

Although Finlandia-hiihto is primarily a fitness skiing event, there is a competition for the top places. Pauli Siitonen of the Helsingin Poliisi-Voimailijat sports club was unbeatable for five years (1976–1980). Siitonen is also credited with the so-called “Siitonen Step”, the precursor to modern skating technique in cross-country skiing. It is said that Siitonen once wanted to rest his numb legs after losing the lead in a race: he took some side steps with his skis and observed that his speed increased – and he ultimately arrived at the finish line as the winner.

68-year-old Siiri Rantanen in Finlandia-hiihto, 1992. Photo Collection of Lahti City Museums.

In 1976, the fastest woman was Siiri “Äitee” Rantanen. The following year, Siiri took the women’s title for the second time, with only 298 male skiers finishing ahead of her.

Sisko Kainulainen in Finlandia-hiihto, 1992. Photo Collection of Finlandia-hiihto.

Sisko Kainulainen was the overwhelming champion of the women’s event. She was the first woman to win 12 times (1980–1994), including six victories in succession in the 1980s. Kainulainen’s best position in the overall competition among the men was in 1983, when only 57 male skiers were faster than her.

Kari Varis at Lahti Ski Games in 2010. Tiina Rekola, Photo Collection of Lahti City Museums.

Kari Varis was a double winner in 2007 and 2008. Varis was the first competitor in the history of Finlandia-hiihto to win the classic and skate events in both years. However, in the classic event in 2007, the first three finishers of the race recorded the same finishing time. Varis has won Finlandia-hiihto a total of 11 times.

The honorary title of ikineuvos is awarded to legacy skiers who have skied Finlandia-hiihto every year since its inception. Currently (2023) there are 20 holders of the ikineuvos title.

In 1988, competitors who had skied the first 15 Finlandia-hiihto events were awarded the title of hiihtoneuvos, Juha Mieto among them.

The Finlandia-neuvos title was established in 2016 for skiers who had skied Finlandia-hiihto 30 times.