I swear the Finns learn how to skate and ski and sled as soon as they can walk...or even slightly before. Here are my experiences taking up these quintessential winter sports as an inept, non-Finnish adult.
Ice-skating. As soon as freezing temperatures arrive, the city converts football fields and random empty lots into free outdoor ice rinks. The one at Kupittaa even rents skates. The girls have gone skating on these rinks many times and have picked up the skills without too much trouble (thanks to rollerblading in Sharjah). But it is amazing how tiny some of the kids are on those rinks, some even slapping hockey pucks around. I went ice skating for the first time since childhood a few weeks ago. How hard could it be? Hahahahahahaha. I wiped out a few times, most embarrassingly in front of a kid who was literally 3 years old and doing just fine.
Cross-country skiing. I went cross-country skiing "all the time" (weather permitting in the Pacific NW, so not THAT often, but you know) with my mom when I was a teenager. Here, the city grooms trails in select areas and you can always just go in the forest. I took the girls today and while I am sure my form was hideous, I did not fall down even one time. So I feel pretty good about that. As with ice skating, there were tiny children skiing circles around me, as well as a lot of surprisingly agile elderly people. Have you ever considered how pleasant it is to watch skilled people cross-country ski? Well, there are many, many of these people in Finland, and I enjoyed being out in the snow with them even though they were probably averting their eyes from my horrible foreigner stride as they passed me.
Sledding. Ah, you never forget how to sled, thank goodness. The fun part has been getting reacquainted with all the varieties of sleds out there. I'm most familiar with kelkka and pulkka - kelkka are the kind with runners and handles, while pulkka are the slick plastic shells. There are also foam pads and those little bum sleds with a handle.