Finnish goaltender Noora Räty has a beautiful and powerful new mask for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, one that plays perfectly off the lion that is her country’s national symbol.
Painted by artist Teemu Sipilä, a relative newcomer to the world of goalie masks, Räty’s new lid features the lion from the Finnish Coat of Arms on the left side, and a real lion on the right.
The latter is an intimidating figure, but represents something else for Räty, who finished her NCAA career last spring with 49 straight wins, a second straight national championship and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers records for career and single season shutouts.
“I have the real lion face to represent courage and strength,” Räty, who backstopped Finland to a bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, explained in an email to InGoal.
The jaw features “Suomi,” which is the Finnish word for Finland, and the blue stripe on the forehead matches the Finnish flag, which is repeated on the backplate, along with the text “Hakkaa Päälle.”
“That is a Finnish battle cry and means ‘cut them down!'” Räty explained. “This is also our team cheer and we yell this when we gather around the net before a game starts.”
Put it all together and Sipilä has created a simple but powerful new mask that will stand out on Olympic ice with it’s bold, strong lines and fierce looking lion, reenforcing the reasons Räty chose him to paint such an important piece for her.
“He is relatively new in the painting industry and for now painting is just his hobby,” she said. “However, his goal and dream is to someday to be able to make a living from painting. This was also one of the main reasons of why I chose him to paint my mask. I really like his work and I really hope that this mask will help him to achieve his goal.”
Based on this sample, it seems like a realistic one.