How to reach Lahti
It is unnecessary to rent a car in Helsinki. There is an excellent bus service from the Helsinki airport to Lahti. It takes 80 minutes and there is a bus every hour. Skiers who stay in Helsinki can take a bus from the city bus station to Lahti, or a train.
Travelling by car
For those who would like to travel by their own car, ferry lines offer good connections both from Germany and from Poland. There is a daily ferry service from Travemunde in Germany and 3 days-a-week service from Gdynia in Poland offered by Finnlines (www.finnlines.com). There is also a daily service from Gdynia via Stockholm offered by Polferries (www.polferries.pl) that can be coupled with Viking Line (www.vikingline.fi) on the Stockholm-Helsinki leg. The timing is very convenient. Despite it is longer than direct connection you lose one day only and can enjoy skiing in the afternoon on the arrival day at Finland. The best connection for those who wish to run Vasaloppet Oppet Spar after FH is the night ferry from Turku to Stockholm by Viking Line.
Hotels in Finland are rather expensive. You may find a list of them at the Lahti web site www.lahtitravel.fi. This page can also be accessed from Finlandia-hiihto web site– “sponsors” (click LAHTI). You may also find cheaper accommodations there. Lahti is quite small so one can move around on foot. The distance from the city center to the skiing area (ski stadium) is 15-20 minutes walking. I recommend Lahden Koti apartment hotel, only room service but room charge is good. http://personal.inet.fi/palvelu/lahden_koti e-mail email@example.com
Skiers who wish to stay some days in Helsinki (info on the capital city at www.hel.fi ) and prefer cheap accommodation, can use Eurohostel, Linnankatu 9, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. It is reachable from the railway station by tram No 4, or a 20 min walk.
Skiing before the race
There are at least 25 kilometers of trails originating at the Stadium. This is also a good part of the race course so it gives you an idea of what the course is like.
The race course starts at the Stadium in Lahti which is only about a kilometer from the center of the city and it also ends there, making the logistics very easy for the skiers. There is a fair amount of parking at the start but if you are staying close by it is better to walk to the start. The start is done in waves of 500-1000 skiers at ten minute intervals. This is an excellent arrangement, after about 5 km most skiers, if they are seeded correctly, can ski at their own speed. The course is hilly in the beginning, where you climb out of the stadium, and at the end, where you have an exhilarating ride down, into the stadium. The rest of the course is quite flat. There are properly spaced feeding stations with a variety of food and drinks. The drinks are warmed, sometimes to a fault. Drinking Gatorade is not the same as sipping coffee. Foreigners may want to stay away from the pickles that the Finns seem to love. The short course is the same as the beginning and end of the long course; it simply cuts off a 30 km loop. This causes some minor problems in the last 10 kilometers where some quite slow skiers share two or three tracks with much faster skiers. At the finish in the Stadium there are showers and saunas available although you may want to head straight back to your hotel if you are staying nearby.
The forecast is available at AccuWeather.
The web site for the race is at www.finlandiahiihto.fi