Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Finland Olympian Sanni Hakala paralyzed after goal post collision

Sanni Hakala

Feb 21, 2018; Gangneung, South Korea; Finland forward Sanni Hakala (23) moves the puck against Olympic Athlete from Russia forward Lyudmila Belyakova (10) in the women’s ice hockey bronze medal match during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Kwandong Hockey Centre. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Sanni Hakala, an Olympic hockey player from Finland, was paralyzed from the chest down after falling and sliding helmet-first into a goal post in a club game on Friday, according to her social media.

“It is still hard to understand what has happened, that the crash into the goal post was as serious as it was, that the consequences have become so big,” read a message on her social platforms that was reposted by her Swedish club team. “Not only that I am forced to stop playing hockey, something that has been a big part of my life for many years, but that I may be forced to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.”

The message added that Hakala has reduced function in her arms and hands.

Her Swedish club, HV71 in Jönköping, previously said that she underwent surgery on Saturday for neck injuries.

Hakala, 26, earned bronze medals as a forward on Finland Olympic teams in 2018 and 2022. She also earned a world championship silver medal in 2019 and bronze medals in 2017 and 2021.

She played club hockey in Sweden since 2016.

“I understand that I am now facing a long and hard fight with my body and the toughest game of my life,” her message read. “This situation obviously sucks but I’m not scared to take it on.”