In last week's Ice Speedway of Nations competition in Berlin, Sweden came in second whilst Finland failed to score a single victory. Therefore, it was clear which nation was favourite to bring home the individual Nordic championship yesterday when 16 competitors from Scandinavia met in Varkaus, Finland.
The question was who would win?
One name that was definitely out of the running was one the Swedish Silver medalists from last week, Martin Haarahiltunen (29 yrs), as he was not on the starting line up.
The meet started well for another one of Sweden's medalists, Niclas Svensson as he won the first heat ahead of his 61 year old father, Stefan Svensson (pictured). Finland's Aki Ala-Riihimäki did not finish that first heat, but still ended up with 10 points in total, which was enough to take him to the semifinal.
The other Finn who made his way all to the semis was Atte Suolammi, who races with Swedish club, Bockerna. He also started his first heat, number three, with a three pointer. But despite another win in Heat 11, in a crucial Heat 18 race against two of the day's top scorers in young Swedes Niclas Svensson (29 yrs) and Swede, Ove Ledström (22 yrs), he would gain just one point. However, it was still enough to him a semi-final place with a total of 11 points.
That first heat victory for son over father would prove to be decisive in the final running as both Svenssons picked up 13 points with three heat wins and three second places. It meant that Niclas went straight to the final, but Stefan had to fight it out against the two Finns and Sweden's Pierre Hallen, captain of Bockerna, the only Swedish rider in the last six who is not from the ÖMK Rundbana club.
Therefore, the semi saw that classic Nordic rivals play itself out again two Finns against two Swedes. However, there would be no upsets for the home fans to enjoy as Stefan Svensson and Hallen took first and second to make it an all-Sweden final.
In a tightly fought final, where the lead changed several times 58.2 secs it took to complete four laps of Varkaus circuit, the overall victory went to youngster, Ove Ledström. It was fully deserved as he took a maximum from the tournament, having already beaten both Svenssons and the top Finns - Suolammi and Ala-Riihimäki - in the qualifying rounds.
It will be the European Ice Speedway championship in Poland in two week's time. Finland has yet to announce their rider, but two of Sweden's representatives are those who came in second and third behind Ledström, that is the Niclas and Stefan Svensson.
As in the Ice Speedway Gladiators and the Ice Speedway of Nations competitions, it is
Haarahiltunen who will join the father and son duo. But after this performance, surely it cannot be long until the young Ledström joins this trio as some of the top westerners in the sport today.