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Chicago's Finnish Hockey Fans Rejoice After Olympics Win Over Host Russians

By Justin Breen | February 19, 2014 1:29pm | Updated on February 19, 2014 2:56pm
 Chicago's Finnish hockey fans celebrated Finland's 3-1 victory over Russia in the Olympics quarterfinal round.
Chicago Finnish hockey fans
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BUCKTOWN — Oscar Forsman described Finland's 3-1 men's hockey victory over Russia in the Olympic quarterfinals Wednesday in one word: Sisu.

"Loosely translated, it's the Finnish word that describes the national character of Finns: guts, determination, intenstinal fortitude, the will to get it done," said Forsman, the president of the Finnish-American Society of the Midwest. The organization hosts Finnish cultural events throughout the Chicago area.

Olavi Göös, the Honorary Consul of Finland in Chicago, said he wasn't shocked the Finns eliminated the host Russians, whose players and fans were devastated following what some called the most painful defeat in the country's history.

Finland advanced to play arch rival Sweden in Friday's semifinals, with the winner earning a spot in Sunday's gold medal game against either Team USA or Canada.

"I think we all Finns are excited about the results," said Göös, who promotes Finnish businesses in the Midwest and whose office is located in Bucktown. "It will be a bitter fight again against Sweden in the semifinals.

"Sweden is keeping himself as a 'big brother', sometimes bullying," Göös added.

Eija Konola, coordinator of the Finnladies of Chicagoland — a group purposed to maintain Finnish language and culture among its 40 members — said the Finns' team-oriented play overpowered the Russians' star players.

"This wasn't the first time the Finns fought off and defended themselves against big Russia — or former Soviet [Union]," Konola said. "See [World War II] for 'historical analogy'."

According to the Chicago Historial Society, the 2000 census counted 5,879 Finnish-Americans living in Cook County.