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    • Canadian cross-country skier’s lineage from Helsinki

      December 5, 2015

      Helsinki Sanomat

      Canadian cross-country skier’s lineage from Helsinki

      by Jussi-Pekka Reponen

      (original article in Finnish: http://www.hs.fi/urheilu/a1448949017813; English translation by Google, and with some editing by Timo Puiras, Thunder Bay National Development Centre coach). (The article appeared while Michael was competing in the Kuusamo World Cup in Finland, as 2014/2015 Haywood NorAm season champion.)

      Dec, 2015 blog update from Michael


      In Canada's largest community of Finnish immigrants, Thunder Bay hosted the World Championships of skiing in 1995.

      michael-somppi.JPG

      A local 6-year-old little boy, Michael Somppi followed the races avidly on the spot accompanied by his parents.

      Eight years later Somppi became, by Canadian standards, a different type of youth. Until then, he had been playing hockey, but then changed sports to cross country skiing.

      Now the 27-year-old Somppi is the Canadian champion, and does not regret the change of sport.
      Yes, as can be inferred from the family name, Somppi has Finnish roots, the same as 10 000 people in the Thunder Bay area.

      "My father's mother comes from Helsinki. I do not speak Finnish, but my girlfriend Tarja Kiviranta speaks pretty well, "Somppi told Helsingin Sanomat at the Ruka World Cup.

      As a teenager, the reality of hockey hit Somppi. Speed on skates and playing skills were at a good level, but the size was too small.

      "I was not sufficiently bulky to enable me to utilize my skills. In addition, I wanted to try an individual sport. "
      Thunder Bay has developed many NHL players, with whom Somppi is roughly the same age group.
      "Staal brothers and Patrick Sharp are from Thunder Bay. I've played with Jordan Staal, "Somppi said, referring to the Stanley Cup Winner (Pittsburgh) and the 2007 world champion.
      Of the brothers, Eric Staal is the Olympic champion at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Stanley Cup winner and also the 2007 world champion.

      Before switching sports Somppi had skied only on weekends with his parents. "I love ice hockey, but cross-country skiing has given me a lot. I got to travel all over the world. It is unlikely I would have come so often to Europe without skiing. "

      Last spring, he won the Canadian championships 50 km on his home trails, which were built by ethnically Finn Reijo Puiras who founded and owns the Lappe Nordic Ski Centre.

      "My coach is now Reijo’s son,  Timo Puiras."

      Somppi is due to compete in Europe up to Christmas. "Davos World Cup is the most important goal. Tour de Ski might happen if I do really well. "

      Somppi estimates that he is now the fifth or sixth best distance race skier in Canada.

      Ruka season opener was his first race of the season due to the illness the previous week. It was reflected in the results.

      Ruka overall competition Somppi finished 81st, of 84 finishers. The 10km free event went better, and he bested three Finnish skiers.

      Previously, in the World Cup, he has competed five times and ranked 41-48.