Over the years, Finland has produced some of the biggest names in the history of snowboarding, albeit from a video part standpoint more so than a competitive one. Joni Malmi, Joni Makinen, Jussi Oksanen, Iikka Backstrom, Wille Yli-Luoma, Erro Ettala, Eero Niemela, Lauri Heiskari and many more all hail from Finland, and they took the snowboarding world by storm. However, in the past decade, Finland has produced some serious slopestyle, big air and halfpipe threats in both the men's and women's field, and they are sure to be contenders at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. – T. Bird
Finland's Olympic selection process is similar to Norway's where the Finnish Snowboard Association submits a proposal to the Finnish Olympic Committee and the OC makes the official selection based off of who they and the Finnish Snowboard Association thinks will do the best in Pyeongchang.
Favorites in Slope and Big Air
Roope Tonteri is one of the most explosive snowboarders alive, capable or going bigger than the rest of the field, landing flat, and stomping unbelievable tricks. While he's not a triple corker, much like Sweden's Sven Thorgren, Roope tends to keep his spins flat and proper, meaning that his grabs are solid, he's got 1440s as stock tricks, and he doesn't need to cork them out in order to get them around, which sometimes tends to score higher with the judges. Roope also competed at the Sochi Games in 2014, so a stage this big isn't too much for him to handle. If Roope lands the run that he learns for Korea, he could be hangin' some hardware from his neck come 2018.
Enni Rukajärvi is one of the most dominant and consistent female riders alive, and she's been around long enough to prove that to the world time and again. She's a serious threat in any event she enters and she's stood atop podiums the world over, so don't be surprised to see a US sweep of slopestyle stifled by Enni.
Ville is a relative newcomer to the scene but what we've seen from him thus far wouldn't tell you that. He's got a huge array of tricks and he's explosive, much like Roope, but time will tell if he gets selected to the Finnish team and furthermore, how he does in Korea against the world's best.
While many may consider this a longshot, Peetu Piiroinen is largely considered the Godfather of Finnish competitive snowboarding, as he firmly planted his home country on the world stage at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics with a silver medal in halfpipe, and then headed to Sochi in 2014 and made the finals in slopestyle but failed to make the podium. Peetu is half man, half machine and one of snowboarding's great all-around threats, and if he is actively trying to make the Finnish National Team that's headed to Pyeongchang, don't count the kid out by any means.
Favorites in Pipe
Markus Malin has been representing Finland in the halfpipe for quite some time now, and he's a consistent top ten finisher, but in our opinion, it would be a long shot for him to medal in Korea. That's by no means counting him out, because he has more amplitude than nearly every rider save for Shaun White, so Markus is very much an underdog, but he could shock the world in South Korea.
We would bet more on Markus for the 2018 Winter Games pipe contest, but Janne Korpi is another vet that has the bag of tricks and the amplitude to finish in the top ten. Keep an eye on Janne, because when he clicks and starts to put down his runs, he's one of the best in the world.
Odds-On Chances to Medal
Definitely not as good as the US, Canada or Norway, but, remember 2010 when a young Finn named Peetu Piiroinen took home silver in halfpipe, there's a chance that a rider from Finland will hoist their country's flag above their heads on the podium in slopestyle or halfpipe, and our odds-on favorite in Finland's roster is Roope or Enni.