The first Finnish downhill racing and slalom championships
Tourism was already developing fast in Salla in 1937, when the first Finnish downhill ski championships took place on old Sallatunturi fell.There were twenty or so competitors including the country's top skiers, Aarne Valkama and Erkki Penttilä.
Like everyone else from the village, seven year-old Aarne Tuuha from Salla went to watch the extraordinary event.He skied five kilometres to the fell, as people regularly did in those days. There were cars in Salla even then, of course, but not many that made it to the site of the race itself.Aarne went with his mother, who was working in a restaurant at the site.Aarne was there to see the race, of course, and that's why he slipped away to the slopes together with a friend known as the “Handsome of Kurtti”.The boys found a perfect spot at the steepest part of the course, where most of the racers took a tumble.They reached impressive speeds, with snow flying across the narrow, 5–10 metre wide course carved through the forest.The atmosphere among the spectators, mostly locals, was electric. The race made a particular impression on Aarne, firing the young boy’s enthusiasm for downhill racing.
Today, Aarne, or more familiarly Arska, is recognised as the driving force behind the establishment of the Salla Ski Resort and the development of downhill skiing in the area…