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2013 Finlandia Trophy Starts with a Bang

by Alexandra Stevenson

Thursday night’s official draw had an unusual aspect. Just after the entertainment portion concluded in the Cultural Center near the official hotel, there was an announcement that there would be a big bang in three minutes. The attendees were assured that they should not worry.

Right on time, at 8:15pm, there was, indeed, a significant explosion, which shook the walls. (Some, who had been talking and not listening, were upset and shocked.) The metro, which in Helsinki runs from the center of town to the north east, is being expanded with a line now running west, through Espoo and further in that direction. No one seemed to know why the explosion was timed to occur in the evening. The only answer to this correspondent’s questions was that it was a good thing to expand the metro.

Attending Friday night's opening was the Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen. The Opening Ceremony was amazing. It used 300 incredibly cute kids, who could actually skate. (NO, I AM NOT EXAGERATING!) There were 51 entrants from 14 countries comprising 16 Ladies, 15 men (after the withdrawal on Tuesday evening due to injury by Sweden’s Alexander Majorov), and 10 ice dance couples (missing were the Russians, Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitriy Soloviev, who also pulled out on Tuesday).

This was the 18th running of the Finlandia Trophy, along with a Synchronized Skating Short Program contest of four Finnish and a Russian team. There is no pair division.

Particularly pleasing for the host country, is that the Finnstep, which forms two of the five compulsory elements in the Short Dance for every senior event this season, was devised by the President of the Finnish Skating Association, Susanna Rahkamo, and her husband for their original dance in their final season, 1995, when they won the European title and were runners-up in the world championship.

Rahkamo has been President of the Finnish Skating Association since 2008. She has vowed to campaign to get the Finlandia Trophy accepted as one of the stops on the Grand Prix circuit.

This extremely well-run event began with Friday evening’s Short Dance.

1.  67.23 (30.49+36.74) The Olympic and 2010 & 2012 world champions, Tessa Virtue, 24, & Scott Moir, who turned 26 last month, are Canadians from London, Ontario, who have trained in Canton, Michigan, for many years. They initially came to Finland in December 2004, when they won their first major victory, the Junior Grand Prix in Helsinki. They won the Finlandia competition two years ago, in Vantaa and had intended to return last year but withdrew after he was injured just before they were to travel.

On Friday evening, skating third in the first group, they began with “Dream a Little Dream”, followed by “Muskrat Ramble” by Louis Armstrong & his Hot Five and “Dancing Cheek to Cheek” sung by Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. It was a light hearted presentation. Moir looked sophisticated in a dark grey waist coat over a light blue, long sleeved shirt. Virtue was in a very unusual dress - light gray with a relatively short skirt of white and grey chiffon-y cut stripes of very flimsy material. Her back covering was practically non-existent, except for vertical and horizontal threads of silver holding the front in place. Her dark hair was fashioned into a bun, with a short curly “tail”.

Their initial element, the non-touching midline steps, was given Level 3 by the Technical Panel, GyorgyElek and Julia Rey. That’s one down from the maximum Level 4. However, the eight judges who represented all the dancers’ countries except for Germany, including the absent Russia, were ecstatic with four giving the maximum +3 Grade of Execution and the rest +2.

Both parts of the Finnstep and their Twizzles were only Level 2, and, although the first part of the Finnstep earned one +3, six +2s and one +1, the second part received five +2s, two +1s and a zero, which still means satisfactory in every aspect.

Their twizzles were also only Level 2 with only two judges punching in +2, two giving +1, three giving 0 and one dissing them with a -1! Their final element was the Level 4 lift, which had a very difficult twist entry, and gained five +3s, and three +2s. Six judges placed all five of the categories in the 9s, with one giving a 9.75 for composition and choreography. One of the other two judges gave marks of one 8.25, one 8.50 and three 8.75s. The remaining judge punched in a wide range from 7.00 for interpretation & timing up to one 9.25 for composition & choreography, along with two 8.75s and an 8.25. They are trained by Marina Zoueva.

Moir said, “We haven’t seen the printout but we know we left some points on the table. But this is a really good experience. Besides the twizzle, the rest of the program felt pretty good.” Virtue agreed. “We’re happy. The routine is really intricate with lots of difficult changes of beat. We’re really dancing through the steps. The Finnstep is a very quick compulsory, and that helps with the Short Dance. It definitely went by fast.

“Twizzles are kind of like our quad so you have work on them a lot. I was looking at the results of last week in Oberstdorf (the Nebelhorn Trophy), and a lot of the skaters got deductions for them. If you do it wrong, you can hang yourself out to dry.”

2.  53.34 (23.51+30.83 -1) Madison Chock, 21, in a gold outfit with the skirt made of a long fringe, with white satin-ey, elbow length gloves and a silver adornment on the right side of her head, & the tall Evan Bates, 24, in a full white tie and black tails, performed to Hollywood by the Puppini Sisters, including, “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. They were supported with teammates unveiling a substantially sized Stars & Stripes, one of whom was dressed in a Top Hat, straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

The drew to skate 8th and began with both parts of the Finnstep, gaining Level 2 for the initial section, and Level 3 for the second part. But then he caught an edge in the ice which just took him down in the first part of their twizzles. They got no points for that element at all, plus the deduction of a point for the fall. It was the only fall of the event.

However, they fought back and got Level 2 for their Non-touching steps with five judges awarding +2, two giving +1 and the remaining judge giving 0. Their components ranged from one judge giving the high of four 8.75s and one 8.50. And their final element was a Level 4 rotational lift which gained seven +2s and one +1. Their lowest component scores were three 6.50s which, strangely, were given by three different judges, for three different categories. Their highest were four 8.75s and an 8.50, all from one judge.

They have done well in Finland in the past. After splitting up with their previous partners, they teamed up in July 2011, earning bronze in Vantaa in 2012 and gold last year in Espoo. They were fifth in their first U.S. senior championship together and runners-up earlier this year.

Chock said, “(The routine) went by very fast. But it was definitely a challenge.” Both Chock & Bates, and the Polish couple, who lie third, are trained by Igor Shpilband.

3.  51.25 (26.43+24.82) Justnyna Plutowska, 22, & Peter Gerber, 21, Poland, train at the Novi rink in Michigan. They were 7th last year in this event, and 10th last week in Oberstdorf. They had also competed in Salt Lake City at the U.S. International Classic, placing 9th. He was born in Canada and his parent’s home is in Moonstone, Ontario. In 2010, he teamed up with Plutowska, who is from Gdansk. They performed to “Le Jazz Hot” and a sexy male singing, “Fever - Never Know How Much I Love You”. Then back to Le Jazz Hot. They concluded with a movement in which she was upside down with her hair blonde bun sweeping the ice. She wore a sleeveless bright fuschia dress, which went down to the knees and had a substantial black underskirt. His shirt matched her dress.

Gerber said, “Compared to the Polka last season, I love the Finnstep!” Both parts of their Finnstep were Level 2, but their Twizzles were Level 4, as was their concluding Curve Lift. Their Non-touching Steps were Level 2. They got extra on the Grades of Execution for all five elements. They were second on the Element score, above Chock & Bates.

4.  49.46 (25.25+24.21) Henna Lindholm, 20, is not related to Max with same last name who was also competing in this country. Apparently, that is a common surname in Finland. She and partner, Ossi Kanervo, who will turn 26 in November, interpreted, “It Don’t Mean a Thing, if it Ain’t Got that Swing” and Frank Sinatra singing, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” They are trained by Maurizio Margaglio. She wore a dark blue dress with full sleeves and knee length skirt. He was in full tails and white tie.

5.  48.89 (22.59+26.30) Drawing to skate first, Isabella Tobias, 22, & Deividas Stagniunas, 28, from Lithuania, who train with Igor Shpilband at the Novi Rink in Michigan, interpreted, “A Fine Romance” and “A Kiss on the Hand” She was dressed in shocking pink with long sleeves and gloves. He was in traditional formal attire with a white bow tie. However, they were only 7th on the element score although they gained the third highest component marks.

6.  48.46 (25.00+23.46) Irina Stork, 20, was in a sleeveless, orange knee-length dress with her hair flapping in a ponytail. Her partner Taavi Rand, 21, was in a waistcoat with blue front and black back. They were 5th on the element score. Skating to, “Owe My Soul to the Company Store”, the Estonians, who train in their country’s capital, Tallinn, had a very interesting lift in which she posed as a boat’s figurehead, standing arms stretched out, on his leg.

7.  46.11 (22.83+23.28) Ramona Elsener, 21, & Florian Roost, who will turn 24 on Oct 30, represent Switzerland, but now train at the Detroit FSC with Anjelika Krylova & Pasquale Camerlengo. They were sixth on the element score. They skated to “I’m Sitting on Top of the World” and “Call Me Irresponsible” She was in a pink long-sleeved backless outfit including gloves with considerable silver. He was in full tails and white tie, with a kerchief in his pocket to match her dress.

8.  44.98 (22.66+22.32) Shari Koch, 20, & Christian Nuchtern, 21, from Germany, skated to “You Give a Little Love”. She was attired in a blue dress with him in a matching tie, black waistcoat over a white shirt. They performed to the unusual, “We Could Have Been Anything We Wanted To Be”. It was an energetic piece with a sad ending, in which they facing away from each other as the music stopped.

9. 38.52 (17.83+20.69) Olesia Karmi, 21, & Max Lindholm, who will turn 23 in December, Finland, performed to, “Man with the Hex Voodoo” and “It’s the Madest Kind of Love”  She was in a short lime green sleeveless creation. He was in a black waistcoat over a white long sleeved shirt. They were last on the elements score but got ahead of their fellow Finns on the basis of their components.

10. 37.81 (18.83+18.98) Cecilia Torn, who was in a bright orange sleeveless dress & Jussiville Partanen, Finland, bucked the trend. He was in a white shirt with no jacket but with a black untied tie attached to shirt. Their music was “Pencil Full of Lead” and the classic, “More”. She is 19 and he is 22.

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