Interview

Senior teams in Finland are staying focused on their training


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Team Unique, Helsinki Rockettes, Lumineers and Marigold IceUnity are preparing for an "exceptional season". (Credits: Ville Vairinen - 2020)

If we look at the Finnish teams, it seems that everything has been back to normal. No masks in training, no social distancing... but the four Senior ISU teams remain cautious and take nothing for granted, especially for international events. Let's take stock of their preparation!

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"In Finland, the COVID-19 situation is pretty good right now. We are training like usual and we are very happy and thankful for that. We try to keep our social circles small and wash our hands more often," started Antionia Arraboski who is skating for 4 years in the Senior team Lumineers.

All the four ISU teams are doing great, staying focused on their training and "living one day at a time" as Marigold IceUnity said.

The Finnish started to skate again in May when the ice rinks reopened. In the beginning, most of the teams have been training in small groups of 4-8 skaters and by keeping the 1 meter safe distance to each other. Ice training all together (with the possibility of holding) was allowed from July. 

"Starting this season was quite different from normal but we feel like we have gained from it. The safety requirements drove us to be very creative in practises when trying to find new ways to train synchro without touching each other," continued MIU. The skaters have been very strict with their health. With the slightest symptoms of illness, they have to stay at home and get tested for COVID-19. "Outside skating, some of us might have school and work at home to avoid new contacts," explained the team Helsinki Rockettes.

"During this time, we learned a lot about responsibility as individual athletes. Of course, it was quite the emotional journey as well to have the Worlds cancelled and skating cut from our everyday lives entirely. But we really took it as a chance to grow and find new ways to stay positive and motivated. We were very lucky to get back on ice so early!", Team Unique added.

How will the upcoming season look like?
Team Unique has this year 20 skaters in the team. Five new skaters from their Junior team Team Mystique have joined the team. Tuuli Mäkinen will be the team captain this year.

The Helsinki Rockettes will have a record this year with 27 skaters in the team and 8 of them are new skaters from their Junior Team Fintastic that is the 2020 Junior World Champion. The team captains are Nona Vihma and Rebecca Leppälahti (called Becca).

22 skaters are in the team Lumineers for the upcoming season of which seven are new skaters. Lumineers will have three team captains this season: Emi and Antonia who have been skating for 4 seasons in the team, and Milja who is starting her 2nd season in Lumineers.

Marigold IceUnity has 20 skaters in the team this season with 5 new team members which came from their Junior team Musketeers. This season’s captain is Amanda Laaksola and the assistant captains are Sara Vierelä and Tessa Tamminen.


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Team Unique in their free program last season. (Credits: Kirsi Laine - 2019)

The new programs
Marigold IceUnity started to build their new short program after the summer break. "We had our annual camp at Kuortane in the beginning of August where we built our free," explained the team. "We are training at full speed our programs towards the upcoming competition season. Anu has developed once again amazing programs and we absolutely love to skate them."

For Team Unique also, the programs are ready. "Now it’s time to work on the details and routine. Just repeating, repeating and repeating all the elements a hundred times," said the team. Same situation for Lumineers: "We are focusing now on the technical parts, choreography and fine-tuning details."


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Lumineers during their free program last season. (Credits: Kirsi Laine - 2019)

For the Helsinki Rockettes, both programs are ready! The themes have been announced this week. Helsinki Rockettes' short program will be called "Loneliness". The free skate will be "The Muse" referring to the Greek mythology muses who were the goddesses of arts and science. All music compositions are from Hugo Chouinard.




The competitions
"We are feeling quite confident that we’ll be able to compete in Finland before Christmas so that is exciting. We also really look forward to revealing our new programs to the world! Especially the free program is something very different compared to what we’ve done during the past few years so we can’t wait to perform it," said Jenni from Team Unique. All Senior ISU teams have not yet made final decisions about the competitions they will take part in this upcoming season.

Lumineers will try to attend the national-level competitions in Finland and international competitions if the situation allows the Finnish athletes to travel. "We are excited for the competition season to start, even though it is going to be an exceptional season for everyone. We hope we will find a way to organize competitions in spite of the COVID-19 situation and we can't wait to perform our programs! We especially hope that the Worlds will be held since our main goal of the season is to compete there," said Antonia from Lumineers.


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Marigold IceUnity - Free Program 19/20. (Credits: Kirsi Laine - 2019)

"We are not going to take any unnecessary risks"
"This season is very unusual and we are preparing for anything. Whether it’s competitions held in Finland, virtual competitions, or international competitions. In these times safety comes first but we are keen to participate in as many competitions as possible that are safe. It depends also on which competitions ISU is planning to arrange and what guidelines and travel restrictions the Finnish Government is giving at a time. We don’t want to risk being in quarantine so we are not going to take any unnecessary risks," added Marigold IceUnity. The team is training one day at a time but also with the same intensity as if the competitions were held normally. "In the next few months, we will hopefully start the competition season with virtual Finlandia Trophy and 1st qualifiers. We are preparing to be ready for everything that this season may hold inside."

"We’re still waiting for the international competition guidelines from the Finnish Figure Skating Association," explained Team Unique. Helsinki Rockettes said that the team is "super excited" about the upcoming season even though the COVID situation. "We are looking forward to skating and competing in front of the judges, family, friends and fans. There is always a special feeling stepping on the ice in those moments."