Q&A: Checking in with Sampo Ranta

Gophers’ forward Sampo Ranta discusses what he’s up to in his native Finland and how the pandemic has impacted his offseason training.

Gophers Forward Sampo Ranta battles a defender at the 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Feb. 28. The Gophers lost to Michigan 3-2.

Emily Urfer

Gophers Forward Sampo Ranta battles a defender at the 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Feb. 28. The Gophers lost to Michigan 3-2.

by Julianna Landis

Minnesota forward Sampo Ranta was in the midst of a successful sophomore campaign when the men’s hockey season was cut short due to coronavirus concerns. As the University transitioned to online instruction, Ranta returned to his hometown of Naantali, Finland. He recently discussed the transition with the Minnesota Daily via email.

With COVID-19 going on, what was life like in Finland when you first returned, and what is it like now? Are things getting back to normal?

When I got back home things were quite okay, I had to quarantine for two weeks after traveling overseas. There were some restrictions, such as restaurants being closed, but there were no lockdown rules. Now things are really good, everything is pretty much back to new normal. 

When the University closed campus, students transitioned to virtual instruction to finish the semester. Was it difficult to adjust to online classes, especially considering the time difference between Minnesota and Finland?

It took time to adjust and figure out how everything works now that everything is online, but I got used to online classes pretty quickly. It helped that all of us were in the same situation. I was lucky to have classes in the morning in Minnesota time, so it was around 6 p.m. here in Finland, so everything worked out pretty well.

Since gyms and other public places have been closed down due to COVID-19, have you had to make changes to your workouts? And have you been able to skate at all?

I have been lucky to have gym access this whole time. A strength coach I have been working with while I am in Finland had the ability to train us in a safe environment this whole time. This has given me an opportunity to really get my speed and strength to the next level. I have been skating a few times a week now that the rinks opened up about six weeks ago.

How have you stayed connected with your teammates now that you’re all separated? Have you guys played video games together, done group FaceTime/video calls?

We stay connected all the time. We have such a close group of guys, so it’s fun to stay connected and hear from the guys with what they have been up to. We have had team meetings weekly, and then we FaceTime and Snapchat and do all that all the time.

Other than working out and keeping up with teammates, what else have you been doing to stay busy during lockdown?

I have been spending time with my family, it’s been fun — during the season I don’t get to see them that much. I have also been playing tennis and fishing quite a bit.

Your postseason with the Gophers ended suddenly because of COVID-19, and the semi-final game between Minnesota and Penn State was canceled. There may be changes to sports because of the pandemic, but are you excited to get back to work with the team in the fall? 

I am super excited to get back, I can’t wait to get back to work. We have a good group of guys, and every day at the rink is fun. We’ve got some unfinished business we want to take care of. Whatever changes there may be, we want to be the team that is ready when the puck drops again. 

This interview has been edited for length, grammar and clarity.