Some Like It COLD: Kontiolahti Ice Swimming
For the past two weeks with an IBU Cup and then a BMW IBU World Cup, the eyes of the biathlon world have been focused on the small village of Kontiolahti; just outside Joensuu, Finland. After a hard day on the tracks with the temperature hovering in the minus 3C range, most athletes usually headed back to a warm shower in a comfortable hotel. However, a few went in the opposite direction, to the Joensuu Jääkarhut, the local ice swimming club (with a polar bear logo above the door) for a sauna and then a very cold dip in a semi-frozen lake.
Training, Then Sauna and Ice Swimming
Finland’s Laura Toivanen is a big fan. “After hard training, we come here for a sauna and then go swimming in the lake…and it is minus three! Ice swimming is very popular in Finland. It is great for recovery, leaves a good feeling in your body; releases a lot of endorphins. Afterwards, you will sleep like baby. When I am at home in the winter, I come here two or three times a week. I like it; it is my hobby.”
Toivanen and teammate Suvi Minkkinen did not just talk about this unique winter pastime, but donned their suits and took IBU Cup TV team out for a quick dip in just-above freezing lake.
Now it is time to put on a warm coat…and watch “Some Like It COLD: Kontiolahti Ice Swimming.”