In the press conference after the free skate in Espoo, Russia’s Anna Pogorilaya summarized it beautifully: “To compete against such great skaters here, that’s already a very good lesson”. And the truth is the last group of ladies entering the free skate at Finlandia Trophy – Courtney Hicks, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Kaetlyn Osmond, Mao Asada and Anna Pogorilaya – resembled one of the final groups at Worlds; any Worlds. In this particular case, it not only resembled one, but it was also a very successful preview of the World Championships to be hosted by Helsinki next Spring.
by Florentina Tone
In Espoo, at this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy, we saw a different Kaetlyn Osmond – and different in a very good way; resembling more the Kaetlyn we used to see during the 2012-2013 season, when the Canadian took the skating world by storm and won the gold in her senior Grand Prix debut, at Skate Canada. Well, that’s not the only resemblance – and Kaetlyn herself noticed it while analyzing her short program in Espoo: “I’m really happy with how I skated today, it is the exact same scores as my personal best, which I haven’t got since 2013, so it was really exciting for me to go there, and I really love this program, I’m really happy with it”.
The gold – and lots of confidence
Well, she does love the program, you can sense that while she skates it – as if she were indeed a French young lady, happily strolling on the streets of Paris. She’s accompanied in her promenade by the voice of Edith Piaf, who sings “Sous Le Ciel de Paris” and “Milord”. Third of the night in terms of scores, the routine was a good start for Kaetlyn at Finlandia Trophy – and in the press conference after SP, she also talked about her preparation going into this pre-Olympic season: “I spent almost all my summer training on the ice, and this is actually my third competition of the year, first international, but I did some small ones around Canada, and it just got my confidence up for this season. And I also started working with a new sports psychologist, which is just working on my focus, and that seems to be working pretty well so far”.
For the free skate, the Canadian chose “La Bohème” by Giacomo Puccini – and, watching her glide, you feel this might turn into a great routine this season. It already is: all movements have purpose, there’s a certain air surrounding her while skating, not to mention she is a wonderful interpreter of the music. The landings of some of her jumps were pretty tight, her flying in the air almost uncontrollable in parts, but the program is a great vehicle, and she sold it wonderfully. With 187.27 points, Kaetlyn Osmond won the gold at Finlandia, and, later on, she commented on the result: “This was a personal best, and for me that means a lot. First time I did so many triples in the program, first time I tried a triple-triple in a long program, and it’s a completely new style for me to skate this way, I hope everyone liked it as much as I did”. She left Finland with tons of confidence – one than she needed like she needs the air, after the injuries and disappointments of last seasons.
With Mao Asada, it’s about addiction – addiction to her feathery skate, to her music choices, to the overall quality of her skills and artistry; and you might have read already Inside Skating story on her set of programs this season.
Seen back to back, or, more appropriate, black to red, short and long program – both to Manuel de Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance” and some other musical fragments from the ballet “El amor brujo” – make for an intriguing, daring ice story, which bewilders the viewer and has him/her completely under Mao’s spell. And this might be exactly the purpose of both programs, masterfully choreographed by Lori Nichol, and summarized by Mao during the press conference after SP: “I have the same music in both my short and my long program – in the short program I’m more like a black bird, a mysterious one, and for tomorrow, I will change into a young lady”.
For us at Inside Skating, the story of the mysterious black bird turned into young, fiery dancer, a combination of both power and fragility, intensity and subtlety, was la pièce de resistence of the entire ladies’ event – and one of the highlights of this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy. And it won’t take long until Mao shows her programs again – she competes this weekend at Skate America, in Chicago, Illinois.
In Espoo, in the first Finlandia Trophy of her long-lasting career, Mao Asada was second, with a total of 186.16 points.
As for Russia’s Anna Pogorilaya, she was on fire during her short program at Finlandia Trophy; she mastered like no other the famous tango “Por Una Cabeza”, choreographed by Misha Ge, breathing power, attitude, confidence, and ending this particular segment of the ladies’ event on the first place. In the press conference after SP, she talked about the main theme of the dance, “the passion that is burning inside”, about the elegance, the emotions of a tango, but also about working with Misha: “He took his job as a choreographer very seriously. I know that he had also choreographed programs for other people before, he also choreographs his own programs, and seeing his programs and the details he puts in his programs, we were sure he would do a very good job with my program too. But eventually it depends on me, on my performance, I am the one performing these programs”. With 69.50 points, Anna entered the free skate in Espoo as the favorite to win the gold.
…but, a day later, things didn’t go according to plans. Despite showing a very good free program just a while ago, at Japan Open, Anna had a wobbly free skate in Espoo, ending the event on the third place, with 182.80 points overall. “I didn’t fall, but I can’t really say that I skated well”, she described her performance with precision. Still, this free skate – set to a combination of emotional, strong music: “Modigliani Suite” by Guy Farley, “Le di a la caza alcance” by Estrella Morente, “Memorial Requiem” by Michael Nyman – suits her great and, skated with passion, energy and all jumps in their places, it might be a winning card for Anna this season.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was 4th in Espoo, with 165.59 points overall. She skates to Mozart Piano Concerto no. 23 in A major in her SP (choreo by Tatiana Prokofieva), while in the free she is Cleopatra (music from the soundtrack of the movie with same name; choreographed by Emanuel Sandhu).
5th in Espoo was Germany’s Nichole Schott, with 150.00 points, a wonderful surprise for the viewers, especially when it comes to the quality of her free skate, to Chopin’s “Nocturne no. 20 in C Sharp Minor”.
Courtney Hicks ended this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy on the 6th place, with 149.80 points. This season, she skates in her SP to music from the soundtrack of “Malificent” (choreo by Rohene Ward), while in the free she uses the soundtrack of the movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (choreo by Jonathan Cassar).
Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx was 7th in Espoo (148.16 points), Serafima Sakhanovich – 8th (143.37 points), Joshi Helgesson – 9th (142.30 poinst) and the Top 10 was completed by Viveca Lindfors (137.10 points).
Don’t miss Inside Skating interview with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. To follow.