this year, our “Rajalta Rajalle Hiihto” is celebrating an important anniversary. Thirty
years ago, the “RR” was born. At birth it needed to be pampered like a newborn child, but over the years it has become stronger and stronger. It has developed into a mature and vibrant event in which skiers from Finland and from all over the world are more than keen to participate year after year.
What a fascinating event “From Border to Border” is !
Some 300 skiers from over twenty different countries, are prepared and willing to traverse 440 “Finnish” kilometres of frozen terrain on skinny and long plastic boards through Finland from the Russian to the Swedish border. That journey takes seven days. The route is demanding. Many meters of altitude need to be climbed and descended. The entire body is challenged.
The weather can provide a lot of surprises. Extreme low temperatures on one day, might be followed by fog, rain and -not to be forgotten- by ferocious winds. Daily, the appropriate clothing and the right wax need to be selected. What a stress at times!
On the other hand, over the span of thirty years, the weather has often been gorgeous. Temperatures slightly below zero –Celcius- combined with sunshine have made gliding on skis through a snowy landscape a wonderful und unforgettable experience.
Today, for example, we have mastered a long journey on our skinny skis. After many hours of skiing, we finally made it here to the top of Syötekeskus. The final ride up here with the help of a ski lift was certainly a first for some of us.
Yes, we are tired, but also happy.
We have had the good fortune to experience a wonderful Finnish winter day. It was a dream to see the hilly landscape entirely covered with white, white snow. The light varied from sunrise to dusk. We crossed frozen lakes. Up here at the top of a Finnish mountain, we see all the trees covered from top to bottom with brilliant snow.
What an adventure!
As I said earlier, this year, “Rajalta Rajalle” is celebrating its thirtieth birthday.
Some of us are undertaking this venture for the first time. A number of us have negotiated it several, that is, many, many times. Every year the challenge is different. Each of the thirty events has a unique character. We know that over the years, the trail has not changed much. The accommodations have remained the same. But everything else varies from year to year. Every tour is different and must be coped with. The pleasure, nevertheless, remains the same. -2-
It should be mentioned, however, that for us repeaters every year it gets harder and harder to get into physical and mental shape for the “RR”. Additionally, if there is no snow south of the Scandinavian world -which seems to happen more and more frequently- it is somehow impossible to get the thousands of snow kilometres, which some of the skiers bring to the “RR”.
Of course, there is always the bus, which allows a tired warrior to take a break for a day or two and enjoy the scenery through the big panoramic windows. This is also a fine opportunity to communicate with fellow skiers and local people. This relaxing alternative to skiing really is an enjoyable experience.
At this point, it is time to recognize that “RR” has been reared with a lot of dedication
and love. No event reaches the age of 30 without the commitment of many people and municipalities up here in Finland’s northern paradise. Every year, a team of volunteers and professionals put forth a tremendous effort and spend countless hours in order to keep “Rajalta Rajalle” on track and above all in good health.
Anitta Jaakola is the soul of “Rajalta Rajalle”. She and her team have organised and guided the tour successfully throughout the years. Anitta and her keen helpers, including the bus drivers, the bus guides and the skiing guides, have mothered us. Their gracious assistance has helped many of us to reach the daily destinations without too much harm.
Of great importance to us are also the numerous men and women who wait for us at the food stations. It is surely sometimes very difficult for the service people to set up a rest stop and then wait and wait for hours in cold weather for all the skiers to come by. There we get -depending on the day- full meals of sausage or fish soup and at all times juice, coffee, rolls, chocolate and water. We can eat and drink all we need to replenish our depleted calories. After a short chat, a thank-you, and we are off to the next service station.
It is safe to say that only the utmost commitment of persons like Anitta and the many volunteers in the municipalities and out at the rest stops have made it possible for us to celebrate this thirtieth birthday of our “RR”. We are confident that it will continue to grow and that many more birthdays will follow.
Thus let us see what adventures and surprises the next four days of skiing will provide.
Yes, we are all looking forward to every further birthday of our favourite cross-country skiing event here in Finland’s winter wonderland.
Thank you. Have a relaxing and enjoyable evening.
18th time Jens Lindemann, GER, RR1 2013
Border to Border –ski 30 years
RR1 7. - 13.03.2013
RR2 8. - 14.03.2013
RR3 9. - 15.03.2013
RR4 10. - 16.03.2013
Over 30 years ago, the then mayor of Ranua municipality Kauno Harju developed the idea of Border to Border ski trek. The role model was a two-day cross-country skiing event, The Canadian Ski Marathon. In the early 80's organising municipalities were easily found. Kuusamo was the original start place also back then but for the first 10 years Ranua was reached via Posio and after Ranua the track went to Simo, Kemi and Keminmaa, and ending up in Tornio. Kemi dropped out at an early stage, and alongside Posio and Simo. In 1994, the route was extended from 320 km to the present 440 km, and the starting place was again Kuusamo, from where it continued through Taivalkoski and Pudasjärvi to Ranua and on to Keminmaa and Tornio. In some years, skiing has also ended in Haparanda, Sweden. After the route extension there was fear of losing participants, but a different kind of growth started to emerge. In 1996, there were two groups, in 2001 three and in 2005 we had four groups in total. The smallest number of participants was in 1985 with 15 skiers, and the biggest so far in 2007, with 386 skiers. All in all there has been 5 409 skiers with 2 303 880km of track. Increase in the group size cannot be considered in order to secure the work alongside the track for four days by the different village communities and other groups.
The number of domestic skiers has increased only in the recent years by 30%, so for a long time 80% of the skiers came from abroad. So far in the event’s history there has been 27 different nationalities. The most distant skiers have come from New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Brazil, and Canada, as well as the United States. Not so well known ski countries are represented by skiers from Denmark, England and Belgium. In celebration of the anniversary year we have first skiers from Estonia.
The image of ski trek is certainly best described by Paul and Christel Braun from the Swarchwald area of Germany, their vote of thanks highlighted the friendship between different nationalities among the skiers as well among the hundreds of volunteers who along the years have fuelled the skiers, made the tracks and have guarded the last skiers with snowmobiles. The event would not be possible without the significant contribution. RR ski and bus guides, as well as service point operators have contributed to the event in return of accommodation and meals. The service has always received warm thanks by the skiers.
On the other hand even salaried workers would not survive without stretching. Worth mentioning is the Rontti bus service which keeps amazing with their service culture both skiers from Finland as well as abroad. Marketing has mostly been handled by skiers and guides on their own. Radio deliveries by Jaakko Heikkinen as well as publications by foreign skiers, magazine articles, charity campaings and most importantly word of mouth information has taken RR –ski to different countries and also to travel agencies sales charts. Good must go around and come around in RR.
The traditional evening party after seven days of skiing and 440 kilometres has been quite a cultural extravaganza due to various country programmes. We have for example seen and heard Dutch Professor Thomsen's theory Lapland kilometers, a Maori dance, the Swiss group yodel, the Basque folk dance presentation, Slovenian tenor, Swiss lottery with a prize of week in his inn, German Saxonian singing, greetings from Canada, Finnish and American skits and songs, as well as all memory rich speeches and ideas of RR-ski, and of Finland and northern nature.
In 2013, we have 315 skiers from 16 different countries.
Many already made ski tracks have melted in the Border to Border –ski event over the years. 29 years is a long lifespan for an event and the forthcoming ski also looks good. Turnout is yet again good 330 skiers after 3 quieter years. 206 first timers can be found skiing, and it will remain to be seen how many of these will return in the following years.
The event starts again in week 10 at Paljakka, Kuusamo, near the former border patrol station. Start dates for skiing are 8-11.3. and finish line will be reached in the landscape of Tornio in 14-17.3.2012. The 440km of the route have remained much the same since 1994, when the route relocated to its current place. Changes have been brought over the years by changes in the weather conditions. No longer do we ski across the river Ii to the yard of Hotel Herkko in Taivalkoski. It looks pretty certain that we are not able to ski to the shore of City Hotel Tornio, and the finish will be again somewhere in between Keminmaa and Tornio. The little rivers before Tornio have not frozen due to, not the late arrival of winter but heavy snow fall. More excitement will be brought by the morning crossing of river Kemi on the 6th ski day, it looks pretty good now, But …
In the cooperation of six municipalities, provinces of Lappland and Oulu, 440km of ski tracks will be created from the Finnish-Russian border to the Swedish border in the west. The 39 service points with volunteers in Kuusamo, Taivalkoski, Pudasjärvi, Ranua, Keminmaa and Tornio along with lodging are ready to welcome skiers. Possible winds and storms have been taken into account, but sunny cold winter days have been ordered!
The keepsake of 2012 will come from Keminmaa. The keepsake is chosen yearly from each participating municipalities’ local products.
RR 2012 in figures:
There are 17 different nationalities from 18 different countries.
RR1 83, 11 nationalities
RR2 60, 9 nationalities
RR3 110, 10 nationalities
RR4 80, 7 nationalities
206 first timers
In RR1, 29. Leila and Väinö Voutilainen, Nousiainen, Finland, 21. Alfred Steiner Switzerland, 19. Raili Vaarala Rovaniemi Finland, 17. Jens Lindemann Germany, 16. Ulf Steenbeck Germany, 14. Urs Köhle Switzerland, 12. Asko Perttu Ranua Finland and Tarja Tolonen Pudasjärvi Finland. As well as RR1 skiing guide 20. Jaakko Heikkinen, Kuusamo Finland.
RR2 10. Wilfried Priebs Germany.
RR3 19. Olli Martikainen Pörsänmäki Finland, 15. Jussheikki Eero Sweden, 14. Iztok Kordis Slovenia, 12. Solobodan Sibincic Slovenia, 11. Korhonen Paavo Kouvola Finland.
RR4 10. Stephen Walter Canada.
I wish You all f.e. cold winter mornings, sunny days, laughter, blisterless heels, new friends and memorable moments.
Welcome to Border to Border –ski 2012.
RR –ski, coordinator
RR stories from the previous years You can read from RR -history.