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Ounasvaara shooting pavilion and range and Ounasvaara winter games

  • Ounasvaara shooting pavilion and range and Ounasvaara winter games. Photo: A. Torvinen

    Ounasvaara shooting pavilion and range and Ounasvaara winter games. Photo: A. Torvinen

Ounasvaara shooting pavilion and range and Ounasvaara winter games

The old Ounasvaara ski stadium and shooting range includes a shooting pavilion designed by Viljami Kaltio for the Civil Guard. The pavilion, formerly known as Ampula, was completed in 1927. During the war, the pavilion housed a radio station for both Finns and Germans and accommodation for personnel. The Civil Guard's shooting range and its surroundings were used for shooting and field training exercises, among other things.

During the Continuation War, competitive sports recovered in Finland despite the war, and some competitions were organised. In early 1943, the Germans expressed a wish to the Finnish ski association that their soldiers would be allowed to participate in competitions in Finland under the auspices of the association. Following this, the organisation of the Ounasvaara winter games also became topical. The Germans organised their own qualifiers, on the basis of which participants were selected for the games. Liaison staff Roi also organised skiing qualifiers to the Ounasvaara games for Finnish participants.

Winter games were held in the area of the old Ounasvaara ski stadium in March 1943 and March 1944. The Germans were actively involved in both collecting prizes, social events and in the award ceremonies. As the Germans wanted an impressive setting for the games, the organisers put in a great deal of effort. The games were broadcasted over radio on both occasions. In addition to Finns and Germans, Swedish athletes participated in the 1943 games. The most famous athletes taking part in the games included Jussi Kurikkala and Pekka Niemi, world champions in cross-country skiing, and the Austrian Luis Seyrling, winner of the slalom race in both years.

The crowds numbered in the thousands in both years and during the games, the town of Rovaniemi flew the Finnish and German flags and in 1943 also the Swedish flag. Among those present included the patron of the games, Generaloberst Eduard Dietl, and other leaders of the German Lapland Army, as well as local Finnish notables, such as colonel Oiva Willamo and forestry director Jarl Sundqvist. In addition to cross-country skiing, the Ounasvaara games featured ski jumping, Nordic combined, biathlon, slalom, giant slalom and military patrol. The slalom and giant slalom events took place on a brand-new ski slope made by the Germans.

The shooting range served as the centre of activities for the ski competitions , while actual shooting events were held on the ice of the Kemijoki river. The ski jumping competitions were held in Ounasvaara in the 1943 games and in Pöyliövaara in 1944. The award ceremony took place in the Haus der Kameradschaft (House of Friendship) built by the Germans on the site of the present-day police station. In both 1943 and 1944, the Konttinen children's games were also held in Ounasvaara.

The history of the shooting range also has darker undertones, as it was at the northwest end of the current football pitch where Finns executed captured Soviet saboteurs (desantti) during the Continuation War. The pavilion building, which is still in use and restored by the Ounasvaara ski club, served as a maintenance building for the Ounasvaara winter games after th

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  • Latitude: 66.4968793271936
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