Leena Laaksonen: "It’s hard to know how far the Olympic dream is"


Team Spirit Junior - SWE. (Credits: Sebastien Muller - 2019)

A few days ago, we told you about the seminar given by Leena Laaksonen (FIN) in Switzerland. ISU judge, referee, and technical controller for synchronized skating, this skating specialist is talking about the new season that is fast approaching and the development of synchronized skating.

This year, Challenger Series will be introduced in the synchro skating calendar for the first time. What do you think about this change? 

It’s great! It gives more visibility to the teams and synchro is treated in the same way as the other skating disciplines. I think that it’s really important that synchro gets the same respect. And for the synchro teams, it’s also something new! There are some new places to go to competitions, it’s also interesting.

Do you think that our sport will be put forward with this change?

Hopefully, yes. 

You’re traveling internationally for skating. What do you think about the development of synchro?

Individual skills are developing all the time. Of course, we want to keep synchro as a synchronized sport, a team sport, but I think that it’s really going in the direction of a combination of different skills and skating disciplines. We require more and more and we’re taking some ideas from the pairs like death spirals and twizzle series from ice dance for example. I think that synchro is developing in different ways, and now every team has to think about their own strengths, choose their own directions. Basically, synchro is trying to develop the skaters in so many versatile ways and train them to become really athletic and artistic at the same time. Synchro skaters have to be like professional athletes and become better and better in so different aspects of the sport, and not just in one thing.

Leena Laaksonen

Synchro skaters have to be strong, to be flexible, good at interpretation… Everything at the same time! 

Exactly! To be flexible is one point, but also you have to be very dynamic as well. In the past, synchro was more about doing formations and we didn’t care so much about the skating skills. Now you really have to be a very good skater and be able to move in different ways alone, and as part of the team. It’s demanding more and more. 

Can you imagine that some of the first fans of synchronized skating can be a little bit "nostalgic" about the original formations? 

It’s true. The "old fans" could regret that the skaters are no longer all the time together in a hold on the ice. But I also think that for the sport to develop, we also need to raise the other part, so to bring a little bit of individual as well. Of course, synchro shouldn’t be totally individual either. I don’t want it to go that way. For me, synchro should keep something of the old and something from the new to progress. 

And to finish, as an ISU judge, technical controller and referee, what about synchro at the Olympics? 

Of course, hopefully, we’ll reach this goal! As we see the quality of the teams and look at their skills, synchro should definitely be an Olympic sport. But there are so many things that affect it, it’s hard to know how far that dream is. Hopefully, we’re not so far. 

Thank you so much, Leena! 

Read here the first part of Leena's interview