Arvo Viitanen was one of the best Finnish cross-country skiers in the mid-1950s, trailing only the renowned Veikko Hakulinen. Viitanen’s first major victory came in 1952, when he won the 18 km at the Lahti Ski Games. He would also win this event at Lahti in 1953 and 1954, thus becoming the first athlete to win one event three times in a row at the Lahti Ski Games. His fourth victory at Lahti came in 1955, when he won the 50 km. Viitanen won his first Finnish Championship in 1954 in the relay and was selected to the 1954 Finnish World Championships team, where he was very successful, winning a full set of medals – gold in relay, silver in 15 km and bronze in 50 km. In 1955, at the Cortina d’Ampezzo pre-Olympics Viitanen won the 15 km and was fourth at 30 km, but at the Olympics itself, Viitanen was not so successful, winning only silver in the relay and finishing ninth in the 15 km. In 1956 Viitanen also won the Holmenkollen 50K. Viitanen made his last international appearance at the 1958 World Championships, where he won bronzes in the 50 km and relay and was fourth over 30 km. Domestically, besides his 1954 relay title, Viitanen won three more individual Finnish titles (1955 in the 15 and 50 km and in 1959 at 30 km) and added two silvers (1958 in the 15 km and 1959 at 50 km) at the Finnish Championships. After his sporting career Viitanen worked as a forester and was a member of Finnish Skiing Federation Board of Directors from 1976-82.