People have always skied in Salla, evidence of which is the world’s oldest ski discovered in Salla in 1938.
The early history of the Salla Ski Resort goes back to the 1930s, when the skiers of the fell highlands, hiking skiers and health travellers discovered the three fell highlands of Kuolajärvi: Sallatunturi, Välitunturi and Rohmoivatunturi.
In the mid-1930s, the Finnish Skiing Association noticed the possibilities Salla posed as an official venue for winter sports. The variations in the nature and terrain of Sallatunturi were praised, as were the functioning travel routes and accommodation possibilities.
In the spring of 1936, the Finnish Skiing Association searched for a place to organise Finland’s very first slalom and speed skiing Finnish championships. The Skiing Association chose Salla, as the Sallatunturi Fell has a speed skiing run, competition area and accommodation was nearby. Travel by train was possible to Kemijärvi and the postal line took visitors to Salla. The Finnish Championships were arranged in beautiful, sunny winter conditions on 3 – 4 April 1937.
During the Second World War and Continuation War, i.e. 1939 – 1944, skiing sports activities quietened. At the end of the war, Salla was forced to relinquish its sister fell highlands to the Soviet Union.
In the early 1960s, the Small Pyhätunturi was developed by the Sallan Karhu sports club managed by Aarne Tuuha. The fell highland was located only ten kilometres from the current village of Salla. The first slope to open was the Arska Slope, which is today’s competition slope. The most enthusiastic skiers got to practice on this demanding slope, where a lubricated rope life pulled skiers up the slope. The first cable lift was completed in 1964 and was Finland’s largest, covering approximately one kilometre.
The ski resort was born once the Revontuli Hotel opened its doors in 1973, thanks to Sallan Matkailu Oy. At first, the hotel activities were handled as voluntary work handled by women. The men, on the other hand, concentrated on the slopes. The construction of the hotel also inspired the building of cabins.
Over the following years, the ski resort developed in stages in respect to the slopes, ski lifts, accommodation, services and overall infrastructure.
When the Municipality of Salla purchased the majority of ski slope activities in 2005, the resort area experienced dramatic growth. Slopes were improved and widened. The competition slope was re-profiled to conform to international FIS classifications. The slope therefore offers possibilities to organise FIS slalom competitions and even World Cup competitions.
Area planning of the fell region was initiated and cabin construction boomed. Commercial accommodation was built, including e.g. Sallantähti, Sallatunturin Tuvat and Tunturitähti. The Hotel Revontuli spa was completed in 2007.
In 2009 Salla was awarded the coveted title of “Finnish Ski Resort of the Year”, and was particularly praised for succeeding in commercialising its location as “the middle of nowhere”. Other reasons for the award were competition and coaching activities.