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HELSINKI—BEIJING—Just two hours after Finland won its first Olympic ice hockey gold medal at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Sunday morning, people are climbing the slippery statue of Havis Amanda at the Market Square on a bright winter day.

The sun caresses the drunken faces of those who have climbed on top of the statue built in the early 20th century, and which is now wearing a yellow pork pie hat on its curls, and the top of her naked body clad in a Finnish hockey shirt. With beer cans in hand, people shout: “Finland is the World Champion!” In summer, the revelers would be swimming in the basin that surrounds the statue.

In the game that began six in the morning, Leijonat beat the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 2—1, and since then—and likely before—many of the hundreds of people at the Market Square have been indulging in something stronger than water.

Why not? Many bars have been allowed to keep their doors open until midnight. And who could sleep before a day like this?

“It is hard to put in words what this means,” Finland captain Valtteri Filppula said before he presented his teammates with their gold medals.

“Hockey is a big thing in Finland.”

And so is an Olympic gold medal.


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