The 17th Finlandia Trophy took place at the Barona Arena in Espoo, Finland, from October 5 to 7, 2012. Skaters and teams representing 15 countries competed in the Men, Ladies, Ice Dance, and Synchronized Skating disciplines in this annual international senior event.
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan skated to a clear victory, leading over USA’s Richard Dornbush with 248.13 to 239.99 points. Overnight leader Javier Fernandez of Spain slipped to third at 235.20 points.
Fernandez took the lead with a strong performance to music from The Mask of Zorro soundtrack. The Grand Prix (GP) Final bronze medalist hit a quad toe, triple Axel, a triple Lutz-double toe, and earned a level four for his flying upright spin, earning 80.77 (42.03/38.74) points.
“It’s my first competition of the season and I did a good job,” noted the 21-year-old. “I need to compete in order to find my mistakes. For the long program, I’m planning three quads − this is new, as the rest [of my elements] are pretty much the same.”
Hanyu crashed on an underrotated quad toe and the landing of his triple Axel was tight, however, he completed a triple Lutz-double toe and two level-four spins to earn 75.57 (37.97/38.60) points.
“I missed the quad, but overall it wasn’t so bad,” commented the 2012 World bronze medalist. “I will focus on tomorrow.”
Speaking in English, Hanyu explained that he benefited from moving to Canada where he is now training under Brian Orser together with Fernandez.
“It is so exciting at every practice, but sometimes I don’t focus, because with Javier everything is in English and I must learn English,” he offered.
Dornbush tripled his planned quad toe and stepped out of the landing, but recovered to land a nice triple Axel and triple Lutz-double toe, and showed strong spins and footwork in his routine to With or Without You by U2. The 2010–11 Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Final champion finished third with 71.19 (35.56/35.63) points.
“I was pretty happy what I was able to turn the program into after the first mistake,” said the American. “I wanted to do the quad, but wasn’t able to do that, so I had to change my program as I went. Depending on how it goes, I’m planning to do two quads in the long program.”
USA’s Johnny Weir started his much anticipated comeback in Finland. Skating to Poker Face by Lady Gaga, he stumbled on his opening quad toe that was downgraded. The nervous looking Weir went on to complete a triple Axel and triple Lutz-double toe, and picked up a level four for his flying camel spin. Overall, he appeared a bit slow, but the crowd cheered for every move in his fun program. He came in fourth at 69.03 (31.94/37.09) points.
“I’m glad I finished the first step in this comeback,” said the 28-year-old. “It was so difficult all day. I was nervous, I was shaking.”
“I didn’t know where to go with myself,” he explained. “Just even remembering all the things I have to do in my program, all of the points where Galina Yakovlevna (Zmievskaia) said you have to do this, and this, I was forgetting everything on the ice. Not a great performance, but a very good first step. I have nothing to be ashamed of or angry at.”
Zhan Bush of Russia took a bad fall on his quad toe, but landed a triple Axel to finish fifth (69.01 points).
Uzbekistan’s Misha Ge, another crowd favorite, produced a triple flip-triple toe and triple Lutz, but fell on a triple Axel attempt. He was ranked sixth (61.32).
Hanyu had a terrible warm-up and went down several times on his quads, therefore, the worst was to be feared when the 17-year-old took the ice as the last of the 15 skaters.
However, the two-time Japanese junior national champion looked focused when the first notes of Notre Dame de Paris began, and then he hit not only the quad toe, but also the quad Salchow. Two beautiful triple Axels followed (one in combination with a double toe), as well as four more triples (the flip received an edge call).
The 17-year-old also earned a level four for two spins and a level three for another spin and the footwork. At the end, he dramatically collapsed onto the ice. He finished first in the long with 172.56 (90.70/81.86) points, and overall (248.13) to win the title.
“After the warm up I had a long break, so I was able to focus and refresh my mind,” offered Hanyu. “I am happy with my start of the season, but the short program wasn’t so good here. I still have to train all my jumps very hard.”
Dornbush nailed a quad toe-double toe right at the beginning of his “gangster” program set to The Wild Ones, Harlem Nocturne, and Rooftops. The 2011 US silver medalist fell on the second quad toe, but recovered to produce two triple Axels, a triple Lutz-triple toe, three more triples, and three level-four spins. He placed second in the long with 168.80 (92.12/77.68), earning the highest technical score (TES), and rose up on spot to second overall with 168.80 points.
“The long program was definitely an improvement over the short,” noted the 21-year-old. “I went out there and I tried everything in my program. Even with the miss on the second quad, I think that landing the first and getting the Axels and the Lutz done [was good]. I get four out of the five big ones, so I was very happy with that and I look to improve upon it on the Grand Prix circuit.”
“I’m definitely on the bad side of the moral spectrum, sort of a 30s to 60s gangster,” Dornbush explained of his character, when asked about the theme of his program. “As I go through the program, I’m doing various things you can picture in the movie Goodfellas, or something like that.”
Fernandez opened his cute “Charlie Chaplin” program with an excellent quad-triple toe combo, but then faltered on his next two planned quads, doubling the Salchow and tripling the second toe (which is in the second half of the program). The Spaniard landed a triple Axel and two more clean triples, but the triple flip (in a sequence with a double Salchow) was wobbly and he singled the last Salchow. The Spaniard ranked third in the free skating at 154.43 (72.95/81.48), slipping to third overall (235.20).
“I made some errors and I have to work on my programs,” Fernandez acknowledged.
The 2011-12 GP Final bronze medalist was determined to go for the three quads as he felt Finlandia Trophy was a good place to try it.
“I always want to give my best, but this is not the World Championship here,” said Fernandez. “There is not so much pressure.”
Portraying the “Charlie Chaplin” character really suits him well.
“I wanted to do “Chaplin” for a long time, but (former coach) Nikolai (Morozov) didn’t really want it,” he explained. “So when we were looking for music for this season, I suggested “Charlie Chaplin” and (choreographer) David Wilson loved the idea.”
Weir appeared less tense and showed improvement over the short in his long program entitled “Phoenix”. He two-footed his underrotated quad toe and had a scratchy landing on the first triple Axel, however, the second triple Axel (with a double toe) was fine.
The 2008 World bronze medalist lost a lot of points when he doubled a Lutz and a loop, as well as underrotating his second Lutz. His change sit spin and footwork only received a level one, as well. He placed fifth in the free with 132.39 (56.65/75.74) points, and scored a total of 201.42 points to remain in fourth.
“As soon as I was done with my performance today, everything came back as a competitor,” said Weir. “I was upset that I made mistakes. I was angry at the little things that I left out of the program in order to save energy for the next jump or the next spin. I think I could have done a lot better with the presentation of this program.”
Ge entertained the crowd with his version of “Charlie Chaplin,” staying in character from the moment he stepped on to the ice until he left. The program starts as the traditional “Chaplin,” but then turns into a hip-hop version with lyrics at the end.
The 21-year-old was slapped with a one point music violation deduction, but was ready for it as his goal was to entertain the spectators-which he definitely did. The Russian-born skater landed forward on his triple Axel (downgraded), but pulled off seven triples to score 126.60 points, and remained in sixth place overall (187.92).
Bush fell on his quad toe attempt and stumbled on most of his other jumps, placing seventh in the long (125.28) and fifth overall (194.29).
Sweden’s Adrian Schultheiss was another skater who successfully landed a quad (toe), and came in eighth (177.84).
Julia Lipnitskaya of Russia celebrated a successful debut at the international senior level and took the Finlandia Trophy title. Finland’s own Kiira Korpi had to settle for second place, while USA’s Mirai Nagasu placed third.
Korpi skated to the lead with a strong performance to The Girl with Flaxen Hair by Claude Debussy. Her elegant program featured a triple toe-triple, a triple loop, a double Axel, and three level-four spins. The three-time and current European silver medalist was awarded 69.27 (36.87/32.40) points.
“I felt really good on the ice even though I was a bit nervous,” said the Finn. “This is my first competition after a long break, but I felt relaxed when the audience gave me support, and I’m really pleased with my performance.”
Lipnitskaya opened her dynamic performance to a modern arrangement of Sabre Dance with a triple Lutz-triple toe, but stepped out of the second jump. The 2012 Russian junior champion went on to complete a triple flip, double Axel, and showed extreme flexibility in her trademark spins. She scored 64.05 (35.50/28.55) points for second place.
“Overall I’m happy,” said the World Junior champion. “I had a little mistake on the combination which is unusual, but this is my first competition where I include this new combination.”
Nagasu went for a triple toe-triple toe but she fell on the second, downgraded, toe. The former US champion recovered to land a triple loop, a double Axel, and picked up a level four for the flying camel spin and the layback spin. The jazzy program to Downhill Special by Benny Goodman suits her well, and she earned 52.75 (26.20/27.55) points.
“I’ve been training really well at home,” said the 19-year-old. “I guess the fall was bound to happen sometime. It’s just unfortunate it happened in the program. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, because I have nothing to lose.”
Nagasu felt that she benefited from switching coaches earlier this year.
“Changing coaches has been a really good thing for me because I don’t have to travel two hours every day,” she said. “I drive to the rink on my own now. I’ve started to feel my independence and feel like an adult.”
Sweden’s Isabelle Olsson sported a Marilyn Monroe look with platinum blonde hair and performed to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy for her short program. The 19-year-old opened with a triple loop followed by a shaky triple Lutz-double toe. The double Axel was solid and two spins merited a level four, and she picked up 51.16 points for fourth place.
Natalia Popova of the Ukraine stepped out of her opening triple flip, but hit a triple toe-double toe, a double Axel, and a level-four combination spin to finish fifth at 48.74 points.
Finland’s Juulia Turkkila produced a triple toe-triple toe but two-footed the triple Salchow and fell on an underrotated double Axel. She came in sixth with 47.04 points.
Lipnitskaya had drawn to skate last, and her performance to Nutcracker was the perfect ending for three days of competition at Finlandia Trophy.
The 14-year-old Russian prodigy nailed a rock solid triple Lutz-triple toe and a double Axel-triple toe-double toe, as well as three other triples, and only doubled the flip. Her spins were once again impressive − especially the combination spin and the layback, which earned mostly +3 grades of execution (GOE) from the judges.
The current JGP Final champion collected 124.18 (64.89/59.29) points for first place in the long, racking up a total of score of 188.23 points overall to claim victory in her first senior international.
“I am very pleased with today’s performance,” said Lipnitskaya . “It was my first competition of the season and my first (international) senior level competition. I landed the difficult combination Lutz-toe (triple-triple), but I made an error on the flip. This is something I will have to work on. Overall, it felt easy to skate today.”
Her goals are to skate well at the upcoming Grand Prix events and to qualify at the final. She would also like to make the do well at Junior Worlds again.
Korpi debuted a beautiful new program to Once Upon a Time in America, but struggled with some jumps. The three-time Finnish champion stepped out of her opening triple toe and was unable to add the second triple toe. Losing her focus, she also touched down with her hand on the triple Lutz, and singled a flip and a Salchow-toe combination.
The 24-year-old otherwise produced two triple loops (both in combination), a double Axel, and earned a level four for all three spins and the footwork. She finished second in the long with 111.89 (50.38/61.51) points. The errors were costly, however, and she , slipped to second overall with 181.16 points.
“I am glad I met the qualifying points for the World Championships,” said Korpi, “that was a big relief. Now I don’t have to think about that anymore. There were some technical mistakes in the program which obviously I am not happy about, but I think that I’m going in the right direction.”
“I need to keep the focus on all the elements,” she summed up. “I think this was a good experience, and I have to prepare a bit more for the Grand Prix.”
Performing to Symphony No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saens, Nagasu opened with a triple Lutz that got an edge call, but then hit a nice double Axel-triple toe. She also landed two triple loops and her spins merited a level four, but both flips were underrotated and she crashed on the second one. The American scored 110.34 (54.07/57.27) points for her performance, and remained in third overall (163.0).
“I fell on my flip,” acknowledged the 2011 Four Continents bronze medalist. “That was a bit of a bummer because this was my combination and I realized that I only had two combinations.”
Despite the mistakes, the Californian was not too disappointed.
“Overall, this was a great start to the season and I’m glad I came here,” said Nagasu. “There is so much I need to go home and work on.”
However, Nagasu regretted having just one Grand Prix event so far.
“I don’t have a chance getting to the Final,” she noted. “Hopefully I’ll skate my best and get two (Grand Prix) next year.”
Popova delivered a solid skate to La Bayadere by Leon Minkus that included six triples and a double Axel, but she was a bit slow overall. The Ukrainian moved up one spot to fourth at 153.39 points.
Olsson skated to a medley of music by Nightwish, a popular Finnish symphonic metal band. She opened with a high triple Lutz and a double Axel-triple toe, but then made errors on other jumps to drop to fifth overall at 151.67 points.
Turkkila once more nailed her triple toe-triple toe, but then doubled a flip and a Salchow, and placed sixth overall (143.0).
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia fended off a challenge from Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte to win the Finlandia Trophy. USA’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue finished third.
Olympic and World Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had planned to defend last year’s Finlandia Trophy title, but the team withdrew the day before the event as Moir suffered from a muscle strain in his neck.
Bobrova and Soloviev opted for a romantic Polka and Waltz. Their Polka looked smooth and they picked up a level three and a level two for it. The twizzles and the straight line lift were a level four, while the flowing side by side footwork merited a level three. The two-time and current Russian champions collected 65.56 (31.66/33.90) points for first place.
“We are very pleased with what we did,” said Soloviev. “This was the first important competition of the season. There were a lot of emotions and this was the best performance of this program to date.”
Soloviev also explained the story behind their program: “We are meeting at a ball, and the Polka part is like a game. We are dancing and having fun and I enjoy dancing with a pretty girl. In the Waltz part, the mood is more serious and this is not a game anymore. Now there are serious emotions and we realize that we fell in love, but at the end we are part ways. The ball is over and we know that we can not be together. I am an old man and she is a young girl.”
Cappellini and Lanotte chose a different theme and time for their program with music from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. They, too, performed very well and earned the same levels as Bobrova and Soloviev. The difference in the technical score was just 0.07 points, but the Italians got 1.33 points less in the component score.
“We are happy to get that first program out of the way,” Cappellini told the post-event press-conference. “There is a lot of room for improvement and we hope to improve for Skate Canada.”
She added that they had watched the movie and that many moves in the programs are inspired by it.
Hubbell and Donohue skated first out of the 11 dance teams, placing third with 58.44 (28.42/30.02 points). The 2012 US bronze medalists produced solid level four twizzles, a level-four curve lift, and got a level two and three for the Yankee Polka patterns. Their midlines steps only earned a level two, however.
“I think that we skated okay,” said Hubbell. “We’ve been training really hard this off-season, trying to improve from last year. We are ready to compete. It wasn’t our best skate, but we have two weeks to improve for Skate Canada.”
Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy placed fourth (55.64) after a cheerful interpretation of a classical Polka and Waltz selection. Although their rotational lift was well done and garnered +2 GOEs from seven out of the eight judges, it only fulfilled the requirements for a level one. The students of Barbara Fusar Poli earned 55.64 points.
Irina Shtork and Taavi Rand of Estonia delivered an upbeat and cowboy themed program to Cotton Eyed Joe and Old Country Waltz, and came in fifth at 50.55 points.
Switzerland’s Ramona Elsener and Florian Jost were sixth after their romantic Polka and Waltz (44.95 points).
Bobrova and Soloviev put out an intense program to a new arrangement of Man with a Harmonica and Tosca. The elements were woven into the routine and the lifts were cleverly placed with the music.
The program is a departure for the European silver medalists, who present themselves with a new, more modern side. They sport a different and interesting look and the choreography is sophisticated.
However, there was still room for improvement on the technical side. The twizzles, the curve lift, and the somewhat labored looking diagonal step sequence only merited a level two. The remaining three lifts and spin were awarded a level four, and the circular footwork was a level three. The Russians earned 94.15 (42.66/51.49) points for a second place finish in the free dance, but with a total score of 159.71 points, were able to hang onto first overall.
“Overall we are satisfied with our performance,” said Soloviev. “it was clean and we did all our elements. There were a few technical issues, and in some places we did not hold the position in the lift enough. Obviously, we wanted to skate much better and we did have better run-throughs of this program.”
“We wanted to risk something by portraying a different image,” Soloviev explained of their free dance. “Sasha (Zhulin) had the idea. I am a kind of deranged person and Katia tries to save me, to bring me back to reality. Then there is a turning point in the program when she loses all hope to bring me back. Then, while I am coming back, she is getting lost, and in the end, she loses her mind.”
Cappellini and Lanotte debuted their new “Carmen” program, earning 94.58 (44.35/50.23) points for first place for their efforts. There is no doubt that this role suits Cappellini perfectly. She is an actress on the ice, and is at her best when she can portray a character. “Carmen” is one of the most overused music pieces in figure skating, however, the Italians bring it across very well.
The team skated very well, however, their two footwork sequences and rotational lift were graded a level two, while the other elements were a level four. The Italian champions placed second overall with 158.74 points, trailing the winners by less than a point.
“We are very pleased with the way we skated today,” Cappellini told the press. “We really tried to go out there and be stronger than yesterday with the character and interpretation. That might have affected some levels, but we will work very hard on it.”
“We don’t have many programs under our belt because I was injured this summer,” she explained. “We came to this competition to get feedback from the judges. We got indications on what we need to work on for Skate Canada.”
Cappellini revealed that she sprained her left shoulder during the summer and the injury needed some time to heal. It didn’t keep her off the ice entirely, but she was only able to skate without pain recently.
Hubbell and Donohue danced to a sensual Spanish Flamenco, a style that works very well for them. The Americans produced five level-four elements, which gave them the highest technical base value and the second highest element score. However, the straight-line lift and the diagonal step sequence were a level two. The team picked up 91.86 (44.15/47.71) points for their free dance, placed third overall with 150.30 points.
“It’s our first actual competition,” said Donohue, “our first chance to get out and really show both our programs. We are especially happy with our free dance today. It was clean. We got a really good connection in this program. Obviously, we put a lot of time and effort in each small section of the program.”
Guignard and Fabbri turned in a solid dance with their classical interpretation to Four Seasons, picking up a level four for two lifts and the twizzles. They placed fourth (85.42) in the free dance and overall (141.06 points).
Shtork and Rand chose a Tango placed fifth overall (129.41), followed by Elsener and Roost (113.03).
Synchronized Skating is popular in Finland and their teams have been very successful at the ISU World Championships. The Finnish Federation invited four Finnish and one Russian synchro team to perform their short programs on the first day of the event.
According to Federation President Susanna Rahkamo, it was the first time that synchronized skating was part of a figure skating competition with single skating and ice dance.
Team Unique upset the favorites to win the short program named “TU Flow” with 60.43 points. The Rockettes came second with 57.95 points. The Russian guests “Team Paradise” were a close third with 57.34 points.
Marigold IceUnity made an error in the intersection and had a fall in the circle, and finished fourth (51.80), while The Revolutions placed fifth (46.39 points).