Finland produces some of the best young freestylers in the world. You may ask how such a small country, with a small population, can do this, well the answer must lie in the fact that Finnish resorts offer so little in terms of terrain that the main challenge is the halfpipes. Finlands resorts are small. Max drop of runs is 50-120m (for southern Finland) depending on the resort. There are usually 5-6 runs per resort (although they claim more - if there's a tree on the piste, that makes it 2 runs)
All resorts have ski/snowboard hire and a restaurant. Many also have lessons available in English.
The season seems to be from early December to late March for southern Finland (south of Tampere). Central Finland keeps going until the end of April and northern Finland can be open until early June. At the start of the season, there is generally little natural snow but most resorts have snow cannons and they do a good job. From early March (in southern Finland), the snow starts to melt and the conditions are not particularly reliable. The easy runs tend to be closed first with most resorts only half open by the end of March.
Temperatures vary quite a lot. In the south, -5 to -10 is the typical winter daytime temperature but -15 to -20 is not uncommon.
Travelling: Fuel is actually cheap (around 1 euro/litre or 60p/litre). If you are based in Helsinki, there are buses to most of the local resorts. Language: Although the official languages are Finnish and Swedish, almost everyone speaks very good English. Finns are also friendly and very reserved (except when drunk, which is quite often).
Crowds: The Finns are fair-weather skiers and boarders. If it's a nice sunny afternoon, they flock to the resorts and it gets rather busy (although nowhere near as bad as the Alps). If it's a bit too cold or dull or it's late in the day, some of the places are practically empty.
Resorts are usually open from around 10am to 8 or 9pm. Since it's dark by 4pm in the winter, most runs are floodlit although some places only keep a few runs open, particularly if it's not busy.
Costs do vary a bit but in general 4 hours equipment hire cost 20 euros. A lift pass will set you back 15 euros.
Finnish Snowboard Federation, Radiokatu 20 00240 Helsinki. Finland tel- ++358 400 414 587 www.fsa.fi