Finland takes the scary and spectacular sport of ski-jumping seriously, and Lahti is a major centre. You’ll see competitors practising even in summer, with the ‘whoosh’ as they descend the ramp sounding like fighter aircraft on manoeuvres.
Technical innovations over the years have added significant distance to the sport, which started in 19th-century Norway. Ski-jumpers lean forward, keeping skis in a ‘V’ as they sail towards, and hopefully beyond, the target line, usually set at 90m or 120m. Points are given for style as well as distance, so a slick, controlled flight and landing is preferable to a messy, longer jump. The ‘extreme’ version is ski-flying, where special pistes produce extraordinary leaps of nearly 240m.
You can’t really try it as a visitor: you have to join a local ski-jumping club, and start on gentle slopes before graduating to the serious jumps, but it’s certainly worth watching these gravity-defying athletes perform from the Ski-Jump Observation Terrace at the Lahden Urheilukeskus.