Before the Finnish Lions are fighting for victory on ice, many things have taken place in the background. What kind of a business trip is it when the traveller is not a man with a briefcase, but an ice hockey team with its carers and accessories? SMT supports its long-time customer and partner, the Finnish Ice Hockey Association.
The World Ice Hockey Championships start in the Czech Republic on 1 May. Already on the first day, the Lions will play the United States. However, the team will already have flown to their destination early the same week: first the carers and physiotherapists, and then the players. In all, the entourage includes more than 40 persons.
"We usually travel a couple of days beforehand", says Sanna Hult, the A-team secretary at the Finnish Ice Hockey Association. "The trips are planned so that the players are in as good a shape as possible. We favour direct flights as close to the destination as possible. We prefer to fly in the morning, so that the players have time to check in and acclimatise themselves before the training and games start."
The size of the luggage on these trips is impressive. In Sanna's estimate, it totals from 10 to 12 cubic metres. Approximately five cubic metres is taken by carers' trunks, which include accessories in good order from coffee-making equipment to visors. In addition to this there are the players' own accessories and luggage.
(Image (c): Leijonat.fi)
When the ice hockey team travels, SMT's team for sports associations warns the airline beforehand about the possible need for a larger aircraft. Finnair, the Ice Hockey Association's partner, aims to arrange a plane for the trips that can take on the heavy luggage. Freeing a plane for this purpose from some other route needs special arrangements.
"We trust in SMT's team in arrangements and exceptional situations," says Sanna. "The team has learned to understand us well and to know our special needs. If there is a threat of a strike, for example, the team will warn us separately and prepare a Plan B – involving travel in several batches, if necessary.
Single trips are reserved by Sanna through the SMT Online service. "The last time was when I reserved a trip for a goalie coach from Kazan in Russia to Vienna," Sanna tells us.
It's even been a bit surprising how smoothly the Online service has also worked for Russian flights. I had been a bit nervous about that.
"With the service, we can keep the easy bookings away from the service team. In more tricky situations, on the other hand, we always contact the experts. They have the experience needed to find suitable flights even for difficult connections."
Many of the players have developed a particular daily routine. A good night's sleep is not compromised, and some players also like to take an afternoon nap. This is taken into account when preparing the timetables. The players' own familiar belongings are brought along on the trips, because it's never possible to know what is available in each destination. A successful playing trip is a whole built up from small details. When everything runs smoothly, the game will also go well.
The Lions will get the thumbs up from SMT at the World Championships. View the game programme here:
The Finnish Ice Hockey Association was formed in 1929. It is a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and its official representative in Finland. The Association represents the most popular sport in Finland, with 190,000 active amateurs, more than 72,000 registered players and over 3,000 teams in 430 clubs. The Association has more than 60 full-time employees in eight regions of Finland and at the head office in Helsinki.
The aim of the strategy for Finnish ice hockey, approved by the board of the Association, is raising a diverse hockey family. The values governing the Association's activities are respect, communality, fun and the pursuit of excellence. The strategy focuses on social acceptability, junior and club activity and world-class ice hockey. http://www.finhockey.fi/