I've been out of bloggerland for awhile: Friday morning Mattias and I hopped on a bus with his school mates and a bunch of other parents and headed to Helsinki for "Stafettkarnevalen" (relay carnival/track meet). It's a huge deal - it's the largest annual school athletic competition on all of Europe. In the last years, over 10 000 students participate annually. It's also a big deal that our school participates so enthusiastically every year for being such a small school - this year there were only 19 students in grades 3-6. Such a big deal, in fact, that last month a magazine ran a story about the school's dedication to Stafettkarneval
This is the cover of the magazine that goes out to all Swedish-speaking housholds that have an "s" card - a card that collects points and gives discounts at certain stores. Their story was highlighted on the cover.
The principal introduces Mattias and Lina on this page when he jokes that the school's "karneval" tradition is so strong that 2 families moved into the area for that reason - Mattias from Vancouver, Canada and Lina from Turku in southern Finland. Then, Mattias is quoted on this page, "It's chaos at the meet, everything is happening at the same time, it's sweaty and crowded. But it's fun to be a part of it."
Mattias, giving the "thumbs up".
Then, last week, the national Swedish speaking TV channel (kinda like the French version of the CBC) ran a story on them as well.
Stafettkarneval is held in Helsinki's Olympic Stadium, so it's really something quite extraordinary for the students to experience. The school sent 2 teams to run in the mixed 5x80m and they also ran in the mixed 12x80m ("mass stafett").
I took this photo of Mattias in front of the stadium's tower because the Amazing Race 10 (one of my favourite shows) filmed here - the contestants had to rappel face forward down the tower.
Mattias (in lane 4) and his team ran their heat on Friday evening. It was raining a bit.
They placed 4th, 8/100 of a second behind the 3rd place team, so they did not advance to the semi finals.
Saturday, around noon, they raced in the mass relay - 12x80m; 6 boys and 6 girls running back and forth across the field inside the track. Mattias was the starter for Hirvlax. He's in about the middle of the picture - black t-shirt and red socks (they have to run barefoot or with socks). What you can't see in this photo is that it is raining even harder than it did Friday night. You also can't see how chaotic it seems to have 37 teams running this heat together. I think there was about 45 -60 seconds between the first and last teams finishing. There were 5 heats. That's a lot of teams . . .
On Saturday afternoon, the bus took everyone over to an amusement park. Everyone but us. Mattias had misplaced his cell phone, so we walked back to the hotel. Sure enough, housekeeping found it and then we walked over to the amusement park where Mattias tried to ride as many attractions as he could in 2½ hours to make it worth the armband's purchase:)
For the first 2 hours, Mattias was riding alone since we hadn't come across any classmates. I took this pic of Mattias getting on the "sofa" because of what's happening in the background - the roller coaster got stuck, so they were helping the riders climb down :)
So, we got home in the wee hours Sunday morning and it took just about all day yesterday to recover - I was tired and had a huge headache! But, Mattias had a great time and has some great memories - and that's what's important.
The outskirts of St. Pete
Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.