Instead of questioning can we get cheering – Because I am a Little Miss Skijumpress

It started from something quite small. A year ago on the top of big hill. What if I could…

* * *

”This is starting to become a habit”, I think to myself. ”Here I am sitting in the Lahti Ski Club changing room putting a skijump suit on.”

I’ve had a dream: a skijump. Quite an insane thought that I got a year earlier looking down from the biggest skijump tower in Lahti, Finland. A thought that this would be something worth trying. That I COULD do it! Two weeks ago I went practicing and wrote to you about the first skijump of my life. And now I’m here, about to participate in a skijump competition. It’s Friday the 19th of February.

But it’s not about me today. It’s about something greater.

20160219 Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

20160219 Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

”Mom, can we go already, I wanna jump!”

Little ski jumper girls have stepped into the changing room. Nanni 5 yrs, Heta 7 yrs, Emilia 8 yrs and Sofia 9 yrs do skijump as their hobby and have come to show us adults some example. We’re about to participate in children’ rights organization Plan’s and Lahti2017 World Championships organization’s charity competition and jump. It’s a theme day at the Lahti Ski Games, which is a pregame for the big WC-competitions next year, and today we’re celebrating girls. Well, in the changing room, there are no other women except for me. Eight men and one woman… And I might be the least scared one. I mean, I’ve done this already and came here to win!

The Little Miss Skijumpresses are eagerly waiting for their turn to do the test jumps of our competition. Their joyful chatting fills the changing room. They put on their jumping suits and t-shirts with texts: ”Because I am a girl” and ”Girls can”.

Because I am a girl and girls can!

The right attitude, I’m thinking.

20160219 Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

The Little Miss Skijumpressess. Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

”Julia, this is what everyone always asks and I’ll ask it once more: Can a girl really do skijumping and be a ski jumper?”

This is what a legendary Finnish sports commentator Antero Mertaranta, who’s (of course!) the commentator of our competition too, asks of Julia Kykkänen, the best Finnish female ski jumper.

I sigh.

Julia sighs.

The Little Miss Skijumpressess are climbing to the top of the skijump hill we’re supposed to jump from. They’re cheering for each other and bursting of excitement and expectation. When do use adults loose that spirit, I start to think. Why is there some point in which life becomes so serious that we forget that childly joy and sincerity?

These girls have a dream. They want to become ski jumpers, be like Julia, their idol. I hope that will can come true in a world that doesn’t question if a girl can do this or that!

Why do we even have to ask those questions? When can we just put and end to those questions?

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Skijumper Julia Kykkänen preparing for her jump on Fe 19th 2016

Julia’s big moment has been earlier on that day. She’s jumped in a World Cup competition in front of her home audience. I’ve been watching the game, too. Julia’s done a great performance and it’s been touching to see the video stream straight form the skijump tower in which her coaching team, her own father included, are rejoicing of her achievement. It wasn’t enough for the top spots this time, but that doesn’t actually matter. What matters is that Julia’s done well personally and that history’s been made: this was the first Women’s World Cup competition in history.

And that’s a big deal. These ladies have done a big job in making the way for their sport – first to the Olympic Games and now to here. They’ve believed in their dream and now, step by step, the results of the work are coming alive.

And now, few hours later after her own competition, while the Small Skijumpressess are climbing to the top of the hill, Julia looks to commentator Antero Mertaranta’s eyes and says:

”Well, I guess girls can jump, because they do jump.”

At this point I’m already on the top of the hill, too, waiting for my jump, but when I hear Julia’s answer I scream aloud: ”Girls can!”

Right answer!

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”Now that it so happened, and you fell to the ground and failed, do you think half of the city hates you now?” 

I’ve done my jump. Some amateur luck, I guess. Both my test jump and the competition jump have ended me falling down, even though in my practice two weeks earlier everything went exemplary. The top moment of my life ends up lying in the snow and the question asked by one of the most legendary Finnish person, Mr. Mertaranta: will everyone hate me now?

That makes me laugh. Mr. Mertaranta’s interviewing me infront of the public and I ask their opinion. They give me big applauses.

”No. They love me”, I answer.

20160219 Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

20160219 Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

The Little Miss Skijumpresses are running around in the crowd. Pictures are taken and cheers given. Everyone’s jumped now and the atmosphere is high.

I look at the Little Miss Skijumpressess.

I look at Julia.

I look at Mr. Mertaranta.

I look at the cheering public.

I return looking at Mr. Mertaranta and think of his question again. When one’s making their dreams come true, the most important thing is to win oneself. The most important thing is that someone is supporting them and those dreams. One can’t make it alone.

And us girls, we can do whatever as long as we, too, get help – when the world thinks we have no boundaries and that girls can too. That the attitude is supporting. That instead of questioning we get cheering; making our success possible.

I look at the Litte Miss Skijumpressess’ parents.

Julia’s dad.

The competition organizer waiving the Finnish flag and the text on the girls’ shirts:

Because I am a girl and girls can.

20160219 Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

Us competitors in the charity jump event. Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

Here I am, again. In the changing room taking off my skimp suit. ”This has to become a habit”, I think to myself. The competitor in me has risen and I really want to learn how to do a real skijump that doesn’t end up falling down.

The Little Miss Skijumpressess are bustling in changing room. I look at them and smile. I hope at least one of these girls is seen on Julia’s place one day. I hope that every girl around the world will get all possible support from their parents, schools, coaches and so forth in fulfilling their dreams. And that those whose premises are not as good as others’, and don’t have the support needed in their own families or countries, will be helped by others.

This requires something important of us adults: we need to understand that the attitude is everything. Girls can do whatever and go where ever!

20160219 Lahti Ski Games 2016, PLAN, Juulia Kykkänen, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

Lahti Ski Games 2016, Plan Finland’s Secretary General Ossi Heinänen, Julia Kykkänen, By Iida Hollmén /LAMK

Lahti Ski Games, the pregame to the big World Championships in 2017 made many dreams come the past weekend: mine, Julia’s and the Little Miss Skijumpressess, just to name few. I’ve never thought that a sports event can be a whole world – that besides the sports many experiences are produced to the public by the organization and their cooperating companions.

And what comes to this girl thing, it’s all about cooperating, too! Can we now make a joint decision that we will stop questioning and focus on cheering; on believing that girls can as well as boys?

It isn’t a matter of sex.

It is a matter of what’s inside one’s head.

It’s a matter of dreams and everyones right to fulfill their own.

* * *

Many important dreams in this world; one of them the one of Lahti2017 organization. They, with their cooperating partners, want to build a great event for everyone in 2017 – the year Finland celebrates it’s 100th birthday as an independent country. And that’s done in cooperation, too. I wish that many of us Finns and international guests will help the organization to fulfill this dream.

Yours,
Maija

Here’s a video of my jump. In Finnish only, but I think you’ll be able understand the most important things, enjoy 🙂 You’ll also find this blog post in Finnish here.

Your stupid habits will kill you

Wednesday morning. Wet snow falling from the sky, roads are icy and slippery. Welcome to Helsinki, the capital of Finland, this is how winter here is. I’m quite anxious. It’s dark and I have to drive an hour drive to Lahti which is… well, not one of the most inspiring cities in Finland. I’ve promised to go to practice ski jumping. 

I let people challenge me in doing crazy things. Why? Won’t get paid or anything, this comes out of pure… stupidity, I guess. Who’s insisting? Especially on a Wednesday. It would be so much easier to just stay at home and do the same things I usually do on Wednesdays. I’m not a ski jumper, I can’t do this. Stupid, impulsive and inconsiderate I am to have promised. But because I did promise, I have to go.

 

Thursday night. Change of scene. No more wet snow, and I’m quite excited. Did well the day before and I’m proud of myself. I’m writing a blog to you telling how I’m standing on the stop of the hill, describing how my life is flashing before my eyes and so forth. As I’m ready to publish the writing I know what is to be expected. It’s always the same when I do something out of the box:

”Oh you’re so brave!” ”How can you do things like that, I could never do such a thing.” ”Extremely courageous!”

The feedback. Always nice to hear but in a way it makes me frustrated. I chat to my friend on Facebook. She’s embracing my bravery and telling me how she could never do something like this since she’s got the fear of heights.

”Well, there you go, that’s your limit”, I reply to her and continue:

”To me, most important in this ”courage thing” is that one can’t compare the limits of their courage to those of others. Or, at least, one shouldn’t. Some people do some things and others do other things. I just want people to get to know their limits and become more aware of them. I hope you guys could see the bigger picture hidden here; I don’t need to hear your compliments of how brave I am. It warms my heart, of course, but the reason I do these crazy things is to make you think.

You know, habit is the biggest sin of all. The thing when you keep telling yourself you can’t do something because you just happen to be like that or you got something that won’t allow you to do something. Because you’re used to doing things in some particular way. The only thing that matters to me is that I get to share these stories and experiences with you.

Sorry, you got to hear the big sermon now…”  

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The big sermon. Indeed. Something keeps bugging me after this conversation. Is it really me who’s the brave one or could my friend have jumped off the same ski jump hill as I did – at least try despite her fear? I mean, if I’m honest, it really wasn’t that big of a jump.

What do our habits and beliefs stop us from doing? How much potential do we miss when not questioning our habits, when we’re doing things the way we’ve always done? How many things do we define off-limits for ourselves just because we don’t feel like trying?

Did my friend say she’s fearing the heights just because she’s used to saying that – so that she wouldn’t have to try?

I really do hope you can see the things I do and write in a bigger perspective and picture (or the examples I use).

It’s all about you stopping to think, you questioning your limits and habits. It’s all about you giving yourself a permit to explode some of your limits and habits and encourage others to do the same; that you take the time to consider what could be possible to you if you didn’t purposely limit yourself or someone else. You’ll never know as long as you won’t try. And it’s all about trying. You can always turn back!

hyppääjä

Sunday evening. It’s dark but the sky’s been clear the whole day again. That can happen in Helsinki, too. New week is about to begin. I’m writing down my big sermon for you to read. It’s just waiting for the perfect closure before I get to publish it…

* * *

I didn’t turn back. No, I jumped and promised to do that soon again. I jumped because I had you in mind. I felt I had no choice, because as much as I wanted to experience something new myself, I wanted you to experience something. I wanted you to stop, right now, to think what is possible for you.

Because you might not do it if someone doesn’t make you by giving an example.

To whom could you give an example for? How? What habits and beliefs could you question right now? What could you try? What could come out of you? Because there’s so much more to you than meets the eye – even that of your own.

Please, don’t let your stupid habits kill you!

Yours truly
Maija

I have been writing this blog  for some years now in Finnish. This year I’ll start translating some of my most favorite blogs in English for you and will see where it will take from there. As said before, English is not my mother tongue so I hope you’ll bare with me, the language might not always be ”perfect”.

This blog in Finnish, here.