From broken to whole - Juulia Turkkila had to choose between two beautiful species | Golden Skate

From broken to whole - Juulia Turkkila had to choose between two beautiful species


The second worst besserwisser in the world
Record Breaker
Jan 29, 2007
This an article from Yle, the national Finnish TV and radio channel which has also articles in their website. Original in Finnish with some photograps
I promised to write highlights about it in France GP thread. But the article was so sweet, I decided to translate it all and put it here instead of Team Finland thread, it is ok if moderators want to move it there or Juulia's and Matthias fanfest. It is a bit dramatized but I liked it. It was so long, so I used quite a lot translator but tried to check translation is ok. /TT_Fin

The article:
Serious injuries have colored the way from ballet to the top of ice dancing.

In December 2007, a slender and curly-haired 13-year-old girl, Juulia Turkkila, cautiously peeks onto the stage. Tension bubbles up in the pit of my stomach.

The stage of the main stage of the opera house looks huge. The sets are wonderful and magical. The stand can accommodate a huge number of people, but fortunately there are mother, father, sister and grandmother.

Put on a light dress and ballet slippers. Good warm-up, basic positions, awakening the body. Juulia's wishes will come true tonight, as she was chosen for the Nutcracker and Mouse King performance, which will be performed before Christmas.

Everyone in her age group dances in the big salon scene, but Juulia has a special role that many aspire to. She is little Klaara and appears in several scenes. She also has a solo and many outfit changes.

The hall doors are closed and the lights are dimmed. Klara, who lives in winter Porvoo, goes on a fairytale journey.

Juulia can't wait to get on stage, but at the same time he is filled with longing. A new journey is also starting in his life, which has required giving up.

Juulia has put on ballet slippers for the last time as a ballet student. It was not easy to choose between two beautiful sports, but in the end the decision was clear: the magic of the ice won and for years to come Juulia will charm spectators in the figure skating arenas.

Tchaikovsky's familiar music begins to play. Juulia straightens her back and sweeps the blonde hair from her forehead.

He always gives his all to the audience and to himself. He often shines a little brighter than others. She ends her ballet career with the role of her dreams.

A talented ballet dancer

Before she started skating, she had been a ballet dancer for years. She started as a ballet dancer and was accepted to local Finnish persuaded ballet school at the age of eight. (My own comment: it is not tied to basic education).

Turkkila loved the danceability of ballet and moving to the rhythm of the music, expression. Kaisaniemi elementary school cooperated with the ballet, thanks to which the exercises were held in the morning or during the school day.

- It was wonderful when I got to practice with my friends from school. Everything was very different for a small child. The performances were highlights, especially when we got on the big stage, Turkkila recalls.

Riikka Nyman (her ballet teacher in the past) taught Turkkila for a few years at a ballet school. He remembers well the girl who was not only physically gifted but also exceptional in her working skills. When Turkkila was given instructions, he quickly absorbed them.

- Juulia had really good concentration for her age. He was committed and determined. His musicality was also of a special quality, Nyman says.

- His mobility was quickly visible. He had the ability to control his body, good coordination and accuracy.

Nyman believes that Juulia could have had a long and successful career with ballet. The most important is passion and Turkkila’s passion was for figre skating. - I always look at skating through the eyes of a ballet teacher and a dancer. I admire the linearity, precision of coordination and breathability in Juulia's skating. I think the ballet background has been useful in her career, Nyman smiles.

The magic of ice

Turkkila got his first contact with figure skating through his friends. Many of them hurried to the ice rink in the evenings, and Turkkila looked longingly behind.

At the end of one spring season, Turkkila went to watch her friends' figure skating club's Peter Pan spring show. The Helinä fairy (=Tinker Bell) flew onto the ice and Turkkila's heart skipped a beat.The parents' hearts melted, because Juulia handled her affairs conscientiously. The busy and cheerful girl couldn't stay still, so she was very active in two hobbies. She also knew how to travel alone on the subway from one place to another. The days were already long when I was ten years old.

- Sometimes after the ballet I changed the skating equipment in the car and put on the skates. I didn't feel like there was too much to do. It was so much fun, Turkkila smiles.

When Turkkila moved to middle school, there were other changes in life. In the Myllypuro Figure Skating Club, solo skating was banned and Turkkila was recommended to transfer to Helsinki Luistelijat to be coached by Tarja Sipilä.

In the new company, the training times were different, while at the same time, rehearsals and performances began to increase in the ballet. Both sports require time, commitment and investment. Turkey had to make a big decision.

- I liked both, but I didn't want to give up skating. I strongly knew that skating was something I wanted to do.

- The decisive thing was competing. In skating, I was also able to combine the best things of ballet, danceability and performance. I loved the glide and speed of ice skating. I couldn't have left them.

Turkkila's ballet career ended after the fall season of 2007. It was time to hang up the ballet slippers and tighten the laces on the skates.

A fragile body

If Turkkila had not set big goals in ballet, everything was different in figure skating. He quickly knew he wanted to be the best and get to the top.

Tarja Sipilä coached Turkkila for ten years. According to him, Turkkila was also a talent on the ice from the beginning.

- Juulia was a very good intern. He was interested in the sport and did everything well and carefully in slides and turns. He was also a good jumper. In the ballet, things have been done well and details have been polished, Sipilä says.

According to Sipilä, over the years, musicality and expression only got stronger. Turkkila turned skating into art.

In the 2010–2011 season, Turkkila won the Finnish Junior Championship and began to believe in his own abilities. He began to dream of success in adult competitions and believed that he could go beyond the SM level.

However, the quick success and the demanding sport, which required countless repetitions, were a challenging combination for the ambitious skater who was growing up. A cycle of injuries began, which crushed some of the skating dreams.

- Juulia always got fired up in competitive situations and wanted to learn the most difficult jumps. There were a lot of repetitions and the still wobbly, growing body could not withstand the strain. I don't know if I could do it differently now. There were many opportunities and Juulia wanted to develop, Sipilä reflects.

The injuries hurt Turkkila, because after them they had to put in even more work to develop. The development was not as fast as the athlete thirsty for success would have liked.

- We had previously watched the training with the physiotherapists and the risks were known. The technique was not yet at the level of the seniors. They tried to close the gap and learn the most difficult triple jumps. We went as far as our bodies could handle, Turkkila recalls.

Turkkila dealt with injuries with her coach and received good support from physical therapy. His motivation never stopped, even when the back pack came and many would have already given up. He never regretted his choice to invest in figure skating, even though his body was tough.

- Yes, it sometimes ate Juulia. People can be mean. However, health is always the most important thing, says the mother.

- I knew that I still have a lot to give and I haven't shown the maximum. I knew what was inside me and with that power I motivated myself to get fit. I believed that difficulties make you grow, says Juulia.

At her best as an ice dancer
Turkkila didn't know that there had already been discussions behind her back about jumping into a new sport of figure skating, ice dancing. It started to seem that Turkkila's jumps would not be enough for the top of the world, but the skating skills, interpretation and performance were at a high level.

- I had talked a lot with Maurizio Margaglio, who took ice dancing forward in Finland. We didn't pressure Juulia, but let her see where solo skating takes her. Juulia looked at the end of the road and then she was ready, Sipilä smiles.

Back stress fractures, knee sprain, ankle, athlete's hernia. The list of injuries started to tire Turkkila, who no longer saw a future as a single skater.

He wanted to get to the top, not become an inline skater. The idea of ice dancing didn't seem impossible, even though Turkkila was afraid that she was too old to learn a new sport. It was a mental relief not to have to twist difficult triple jumps anymore.

- Fortunately, I dared to try. In the first practices, Mauri (Maurizio Margaglio) tried to get me to skate straight, but my knees went in a different direction than my ankles, Turkkila laughs.

- The feeling was enthusiastic and wonderful. Sometimes I even wonder where I would be if I had started my ice dancing career ten years earlier. On the other hand, the dance and figure skating background brought to this moment and bring richness to ice dance.

Everything fell into place: a top coach was found, together with Matthias Versluis and a burning, shared passion for the sport and success.

The cooperation went smoothly and practicing and competing alone no longer fascinated me. Studying at Aalto University's School of Economics sometimes brought other things to think about in life.

The journey towards the top of ice dancing began. In the spring of 2019, the pair stunned the figure skating crowd by finishing 11th in the European Championships and 16th in the World Championships.

Everything went smoothly until the fall of 2019 came and a new sky of pain.

The most serious injury of the career
In October 2019, Turkkila will walk into the stands of Espoo's ice rink with a sad expression on her face. The Finlandia Trophy is underway, where Turkkila and Versluis had to present their new programs to the home audience.

There is a sturdy neck support around the turkey's neck and the head must not be moved.

- It could have been really bad. I might never have been able to move again. I could have been paralyzed, says Juulia.

A few weeks earlier, the pair had been scheduled to compete in Bergamo, Italy. In the training before the Games, the pair fell, and Turkkila fell from the lift onto the ice.

The fall wasn't big, but he came down at a bad angle. At first, nothing was found in the neck and the couple practiced lifting almost normally the following week. However, the neck did not improve and the coach sent Turkkila for new pictures. The result was a shock.

A vertebral fracture was found in the neck. It was quite a stopping moment, Juulia recalls. The doctor put a collar on Turkkila's neck and said it would be in there for a few months.

Before going to the new photos, Turkkila had time to practice for a week. He had tested how the injury would withstand training.

- It could have been really bad. I might never have been able to move again. I could have been paralyzed.

Turkkila wouldn't be himself if a serious injury had crippled him. He didn't get frustrated, but focused on being grateful and happy that it wasn't worse.

- I was very clear in my mind that we would survive this and rehabilitate just like always before. I knew I could recover from the injury and that's what I was going to do, says Turkkila.

A wonderful destination
In October 2022, the Espoo ice rink audience will burst into applause. Many are wiping tears.

Turkkila shines competing with the lights of the hall, and Versluis is lounging contentedly next to it. The pair has made a touching performance in front of the Finnish audience and finished third in the opening race of the season.

The pair's original style, lightness and expression of skating please the judges and make the audience love them.

Turkkila's journey has passed through many difficulties to the point where she is now and what she enjoys the most: in the swirls of music, in the beautiful movement language of skating while the audience gasps for breath.

Everything learned over the years, in the dance floors of the ballet hall, cold ice rinks, being treated by a physiotherapist, being guided by coaches and living a disciplined everyday life, comes together in this moment.

- Ice dancing is all about skating, having fun and dancing. Everything that I liked most about skating, Turkkila smiles.

- Now I can do it every day and focus on it properly. Can there be anything more wonderful?


May 25, 2014
Yes, thank you! I knew Juulia had some ballet background but didn't know much else about her so this is great. She may appear very delicate on the ice, but she's a very strong person. I admire people who overcome so much like she did.