This week, they’re working in tandem but from November to April, the reindeer of northern Finland also compete for the title of Reindeer King
I’m in the far north of Finland. The sky is a perfect blue; beneath it, a few feet of ice lie between me and the black depths of Lake Inari. I’m part of a crowd, a thousand or so strong. We watch. We wait. Whoosh! Huff! Crunch! Half-a-dozen panting reindeer fly by, each pulling a jockey, crouched low over cross-country skis.
I’m here to make a Christmas radio documentary for the BBC World Service about reindeer racing, a big thing in the Arctic Circle. Every spring, communities get together in forest clearings to watch reindeer haul riders around 1km circuits. The gathering on Lake Inari is the final meet of the Finnish season; it’s here that the fastest 24 animals race to be crowned The Reindeer King.