Two former World champions and a young lady aspiring to the World fame graced the podium in Espoo, at this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy – and it was the younger one who ran away with the gold. 17-year-old Maria Sotskova won the first Finlandia Trophy of her career, followed by Italy’s Carolina Kostner (silver) and Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (bronze). And there are, of course, many adjectives to describe the medalists, but we’ll stick to just a few: beauty, elegance, strength, perseverance – and all of those might prove wonderful allies the season that has just started.
But here’s how the ladies’ event unfolded in Espoo, as seen through the lens of Askar Ibragimov – we’ll just accompany his beautiful photos with a couple of details regarding the skaters’ programs, music, in a season which is crucially important for all competitors: Olympics in PyeongChang are less than 4 months away.
by Florentina Tone
Heading to Russian Nationals in December – a decisive competition for all ladies aspiring to a spot in Russia’s Olympic Team, Maria Sotskova chose to highlight her strongest qualities: she is a soft, lyrical, beautiful skater, and you’ll see that in both her programs this season.
For her SP in Espoo – to “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky – Maria received 67.69 points, and that was the second program of the day in terms of scores.
There’s this tiny, beautiful detail connecting the gold medalist in Espoo, Maria Sotskova, to Carolina Kostner: Maria is skating her long program this season to Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” – a musical piece that Carolina uses for her exhibition – ever since Stéphane Lambiel choreographed that program for her. Carolina skated it in Ostrava as well, in the 2017 European Championships gala – and she might have inspired Maria to choose this particular piece for her competitive long program this season.
Whether it was like that or not (purely speculative on our part), Maria Sotskova was lovely while skating to Debussy in Espoo, winning this particular segment of the ladies’ event (with 137.61 points) and the overall ladies’ competition (205.30 points).
This season, Carolina Kostner skates to beautiful, emotional French music in her short program: “Ne me quitte pas” by Jacques Brel, as performed by Celine Dion. In Espoo, this was the third program of the day, score-wise: 67.45 points.
Whereas in the free, she’s the faun, Debussy’s faun.
Carolina is skating to “Prélude à l’Après-Midi d’un Faune” – and this right here might be one of the most intricate programs in the ladies’ competition this season. Choreography-wise, this is bold, this is different – and Carolina Kostner’s interpretive skills are to die for.
At this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy, Carolina’s free skate was the second of the day (126.31 points), and she won the silver medal overall (with 193.76 points).
Both her programs were choreographed by Lori Nichol.
67.82 points were awarded to Elizaveta Tuktamysheva for her joyful, energetic short program to “Pisando Flores” by Ara Malikian (this was the highest score of the day).
…while for the free, Elizaveta chose to skate to “Erinnerung” performed by Efim Jourist Quartett (the fourth program of the day, with 121.31 points); the Russian won the bronze medal in Espoo (189.13 points overall).
4th in Espoo: Angela Wang (USA, 183.85 points). Angela skates this season to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – a short program choreographed by Phillip Mills.
While in the free, she’s chosen “Experience” and “Circles” by Ludovico Einaudi, a long program choreographed by Tanith Belbin White and Charlie White.
Alena Leonova finished this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy on the 5th place. “Bla Bla Bla Cha Cha Cha” by Petty Booka accompanies her in the short…
…and in the free, Alena is skating to a Bollywood selection, hence the Bollywood-inspired costume.
Gabrielle Daleman, 2017 World bronze medalist, chose to be Carmen this season, a short program choreographed by Lori Nichol.
…and Lori Nichol also choreographed her the free, to music from the movie „Gladiator”. Gabrielle was 6th in Espoo.
Yuna Shiraiwa – a wonderful presence in Espoo, and a 7th place overall for the Japanese. Yuna skates to “La fille aux cheveux de lin” by Claude Debussy, a short program choreographed by Jeffrey Buttle.
For the free, she has chosen “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky.
Australia’s Brooklee Han (8th in Espoo) skates to music from the movie “Les Misérables” in the short.
And she chose tango for her free skate: “Por una Cabeza” by Carlos Gardel, Alfredo Le Pera – choreographed by Evgeni Nemirovski.
South Korea’s Da Bin Choi (9th at Finlandia Trophy) skates to “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” by Michel Legrand, choreo. by Kenji Miyamoto.
Da Bin’s free skate is set to “Gypsy Songs” by Antonín Dvořák, choreographed by David Wilson.
17-year-old Yu Jin Choi was 10th in Espoo – she skates to “Carmen Fantasie” performed by David Garrett in her SP this season.
Finland’s Emmi Peltonen finished 2017 Finlandia Trophy on the 11th place. She skates to “Tango Jalousie” by Jacob Gade in her SP…
…while for the free she has chosen “Papa Can You Hear Me” performed by Barbara Streisand.
13th in Espoo was Polina Edmunds – she skates to “Palladio” by Karl Jenkins in her SP, a program choreographed by Rudy Galindo.
Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli accompany Polina in the free: she performs to “Bilitis – Générique” and “Time to Say Goodbye” (choreo. by Rudy Galindo).
China’s Ziquan Zhao (16th in Espoo) skates to Chopin in the SP: “Raindrop” prelude…
…while for the free, she’s chosen “Tarquito Militar” and “Oblivion” by Astor Piazzolla.
Joshi Helgesson skates to “Unforgettable” performed by Sia; unfortunately, at this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy, she withdrew after SP.
…and so did Finland’s Viveca Lindfors – this season, she skates in her SP to “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” by Andrew Lloyd Webber.