Finnish hockey–baseball hybrid may get Olympic status

What do you get when you combine ice hockey and Finnish baseball? Check out our video of Finnish ice baseball (ice pesis). It just might become one of the new Olympic sports to debut in Beijing in 2022.

Tahko Pakkanen, the inventor of the relatively new sport, comes from a family that is crazy about Finnish baseball, or pesäpallo, often called pesis for short. His parents named him after Lauri “Tahko” Pihkala, a sportsman who visited the US in the early 1900s and was inspired to create pesäpallo. (Tahko means “grindstone.”)

Pakkanen, whose surname happens to mean “frost,” invented ice pesis in 2007, and it quickly took the country by storm. The National Ice Pesis League was established in 2010. You can play it on any ice rink, even outdoors – you don’t need to book time at an arena.

The bases are arranged in the same pattern as regular pesäpallo, and the rules are very similar. The biggest difference is that you play on skates. The ball you use is a snowball, which means that the pitcher frequently has to pack together a new ball.

Ice pesis has grown steadily in popularity and spread far beyond Finland’s borders, with teams all over North America, China and Japan. Now Pakkanen and the Finnish Ice Baseball Association are taking it to the next level: Just in time to meet the April 1, 2017 deadline, they’re applying to the International Olympic Committee for approval of ice pesis as a new event to be included in the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022. Many countries with a strong baseball tradition – the US and Japan especially – also believe strongly in this young sport and are putting their support behind the bid.

Video: ThisisFINLAND

By ThisisFINLAND staff, April 1, 2017