Ylläs indoor ski-track in Helsinki is facing compulsory auction
Now-popular skiing hall may be turned into an ice rink in the near future
By Marja Salmela
The lights of cars are blinking in the parking lot of the Ylläs Hall in Helsinki’s district of Kivikko between Ring Road I and Lahdenväylä, the urban motorway leading into the city from the north.
The winter and snow have not arrived, but there is a steady drizzle and it is very dark.
The year-round skiing hall, which was opened in 2009 and went bust in the spring, is suddenly popular again, but it is too little, too late: there is nothing one could do to avoid a compulsory auction.
Lasse Nyyssönen, the assignee in bankruptcy, confirms that the auction will be arranged in December. ”It might also be postponed until January”, he adds.
For a long time, Nyyssönen tried to find an individual buyer for the hall.
”No sensible offer was received, even though both Finnish and foreign buyers have shown interest in the hall”, he notes.
According to Nyyssönen, the new owner will decide whether the hall will continue as a cross-country skiing hall or whether it will be turned into a training facility, which could provide space for three ice rinks.
After his working day, Henri Korkka drives to the yard of the Ylläs Hall.
It is drizzling, and the weather is dark and gloomy.
But when he opens the door to the skiing hall, the scenery is white and conforms to the "winter wonderland" ideal.
”This is a fine opportunity to get some exercise. I hope that the skiing tracks will remain where they are, even though the owner will change”, Korkka says and puts on his skis. He makes a skiing trip here a couple of times every week, while he is waiting for snow and for the natural ski tracks to be opened up.
A dozen or so skiers are now circling the track that is more than one kilometre long, and more skiers are turning up at a steady pace.
On weekdays, the number of skiers visiting the hall is about 200, but at weekends it is more than 300 a day.
Happy screaming can be heard from the adjacent HopLop park, an adventure world for children.
”We also hope that the possibility of skiing could continue. We would like to arrange for example skiing schools for children”, says HopLop managing director Tomi Pulkki.
Even though the location of Kivikko is ”slightly challenging”, as Pulkki says, hundreds of children visit the place at weekends with their parents.
On weekdays the number of visitors is a little lower. Almost all the exercise appliances are occupied.
When the Ylläs Hall was opened in August 2009, the skiing seasons in several preceding winters had been short.
It looked like a great opportunity to cash in on local enthusiasm for cross-country skiing as the climate changed and winters in the south became markedly less white.
However, the latest two winters saw exceptionally long skiing seasons and an abundance of snow, and this turned out to be a death-blow to the Ylläs Hall.
Basically the venture was a victim of the temporary failure of global warming: who needed an indoor track when they could be out in the open air?
In the summer months, the situation eased somewhat when Unique Lappland, a company providing entertainment services, used the hall to offer husky-sledding and other exotic Lappish activities for cruise guests stopping over in Helsinki for a few hours.
At present, the City of Helsinki, Helsinki OP Bank, Finnvera, and the companies of Tero Kääriäinen, the founder of the hall, are all waiting for their money.
Helsinki’s receivables alone amount to approximately EUR 3.5 million.
In all, the total of secured debts comes to something in the region of EUR 7.0 million.
FACTFILE: 10,000 cubic metres of artificial snow made by snow cannons
The gross area of the Ylläs Hall is about 20,000 square metres, with a total of 10,000 cubic metres of artificial snow, fired out by snow cannons, just as at ski-resorts begfore the season properly gets going.
A 1.2-kilometre ski track circles the two floors of the snow world. The height difference is eight metres.
There is also an igloo built of ice.
The hall can be converted into a training facility for skating and hockey, with three ice rinks.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 22.11.2011
Previously in HS International Edition:
The latest Helsinki attraction: from August heat wave to indoor skiing on real snow (18.8.2009)
MARJA SALMELA / Helsingin Sanomat