Just finished reading Kiira's memoir last night. What struck me most was that she never had "monsters" as coaches, she had a loving family, she worked with sports psychologists for a long time along with physical training. Maaret Siromaa and Susanna Haarala worked with her for more than a decade both and although Kiira writes about Susanna's ambition as a coach and how she wanted big things for Kiira, they never really actively abused her by forcing her to do things, there were no weigh-ins, no incessant talk about weight or body image, they did not scream abuse at her when she could not do good in practice or competitions. Being Finnish, they were probably polite and quiet, and the problem maybe was that neither side could face and address the issues. When she briefly went to others, Aruntunian and Carlos Avila de Borba at the end of her career, she did get a bit of screaming and mental abuse (Avila de Borba apparently continuosly belittled her and criticized her as a person, not just her skating).

Kiira went from a virtual unknown to a big sports star in Finland very quickly around the time of the Torino Oplympics in 2006 and she was 17 at the time. She loved skating, wanted to develop, wanted the success, and she probably articulated her desires as effectively as the current young girls do. But the problem was that behind the perfect facade she was not feeling too good even at that time. Figure skaters are often over achievers, perfectionists who wanna do well in every part of their lives. Kiira juggled skating at elite level, school in the final years of high school getting ready for the final exams and did a lot of the publicity on her own in the beginning. She wanted to be perfect in every part and that was a big part of the problem. She had created an image of herself to her loved ones, to her coaches and basically everyone that she could manage everything and going back from that, admitting weakness or defeat in the face of all the demands of her life was just not something that an ambitious and competetive person could do. No one realized how serious her talk of tiredness was, how the continuous dieting and weight control (that she did herself without anyone forcing her to do it) resulted in the first serious physiological problems already in 2008.

And her point is that even if she really wanted to do everything she did, and even if she set impossibly high goals for herself, she was not an adult who could be expected to take reponsibility of herself completely. The adults around her should have paid more attention, made her do things differently despite her and their own ambitions. And that is what I think she is after in her comments - these were partly inspired by the first ever case of sexual abuse in Finnish figure skating that was made public a couple of months ago.

The other story from the great days of Finnish ladies figure skating was of course that of Laura Lepistö. She also commented on the coaching practed and supported Kiira's opinions despite the fact that Laura's experience in her skating career with coaches and all was completely positive. They grew up at the same time, did summer camps and competitions together, but Laura got the big successes (which fueled Kiira's ambitions even further) and Kiira not. And the second point is I guess, the work has to happen individually with each skater, taking into consideration what they're like.