Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finns swear higher

I skied at Pincushion Mountain up above Grand Marais yesterday. It was spring melt conditions, and half of the trail was rotting out or ice-covered. But about half of the trail was pretty good. On a particularly steep downhill, I learned that Finns swear way up high in their throats.

I've been down a few "screamers" this XC ski season, at Cascade, in Ely and at Korkki Nordic. At Pincushion, to top off the ski season, I had to ski the "Ole Hyvä" loop.

Supposedly, "Ole Hyvä" is Finnish for "Oh my God." The trail was laid out to maximize the hills, climbing up ridgelines only to plummet off its edge straight down to the valley below. When I crested one of those ridgetops and headed for the big screamer downhill, I was ready to shout out "OLE HYVÄ!!" But all I got out of my normally taciturn mouth was a high-pitched "EE," from way up high in the thorax. "EE" as in "Ole H-EEEEE-ve" On a trail built by Finns and named with a Finnish cuss, I guess I swore like a Finn. As my old Finnish friends would say, "Yup yup."

My next trail was the Hilfiker Hill Loop. Now there's a righteous Anglo-Saxon name, supposedly that of a doctor who once lived near these trails. When I reached one of those screamers, while I didn't try "Holy Hilfiker!!," I gave a righteously deep gurgle.

If a Finn built the trail, do we still feel its Finnish-ness today?

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