Let's Chat About Less-Known Skaters! | Golden Skate

Let's Chat About Less-Known Skaters!

skatingfan4ever

"Our blade takes us in the most amazing places."
Medalist
Joined
Nov 3, 2012
Country
United-States
You know those times when you watch a "new-to-you" skater in a competition and you're impressed but you're like, "I know nothing about this skater?" Well, I decided to make a thread where we can post career and personal factoids about less-known skaters and keep each other informed. (The term "less-known" can be defined however you want). And we can ask about skaters we don't know about yet. I think many of us would find it interesting to read and/or contribute to.

I'll start with Andrew Torgashev (United States), although @el henry is more than welcome to add to and correct anything I write. ;)

International fans may have seen him skate on the JGP or Junior Worlds. Ted Barton is a big fan of Andrew's skating. Andrew made the JGPF once but couldn't compete due to injury. Injuries have played a big role in his career thus far, unfortunately. He was the US Junior Champion in 2015 (when he was 13 years old!). I first noticed him at 2020 Senior Nationals, where he was 3rd after a brilliant, clean SP, behind two unknowns named Nathan Chen and Jason Brown. (He got 97.87 with a 4T, 3A, 3F+3T, crisp spins and steps, and full choreographic commitment). His LP didn't go great and he finished 5th overall. He was 18 and was sent to 2020 Junior Worlds, where again he was 3rd after the SP but dropped to 8th after another rough LP.

Andrew skated at the 2020 Peggy Fleming Trophy and got second behind Jason Brown; he was second in 2019 also. Before 2021 Nationals he got a stress fracture in his foot/ankle, withdrew from 2021 Nationals, tried to come back too soon and reinjured it in practice around August 2021 and was off the ice until November, so he withdrew from 2022 Nationals as well. This season, he had to do the National Qualifying Series and Eastern Sectionals to make it to Nationals. He skated first in the entire SP at Nationals and his score was good enough for 5th place. Then he had probably the best LP of his life to get on the podium/be named to Worlds, and just got his minimums at Challenge Cup.

Now, the fun stuff: Andrew is quite an artistic person. He paints, puts designs on t-shirts, and (at least since the 2019/2020 season) plays a big role in choreographing his own programs. His brilliant SP from 2019/2020 is one he choreographed himself. (Google his 2020 Junior Worlds SP; you won't regret it). He says he could spend hours on choreography because usually he has so many ideas and so many different ways he could see it going. His biggest consideration is to "let the music dictate where the movement goes." He sees choreography as a big puzzle, where you build the skeleton of the program, mark out where the jumps are going to happen in the music, and then you start to build the transition steps into that, doing all of that while carrying the story and making sure that your movements in the end relate to what you want them to relate to.

And how does this budding choreographer choose his own program music? "If I can listen to it and keep listening to it and listen to it some more after that, and I still love that music, and I only started to love it even more after I listened to it all day every day for a week, then that's a good song choice for me." And, yes, Andrew loves envisioning song choices and choreography for other skaters. He thinks he'll be a skating choreographer at some point in the future. Maybe he will end up in the K&C with someone like Misha was with him at Nationals! :)

As far as skaters I'd like to know more about, tell me more about Sam Mindra (new discovery at US Nationals) and Valtter Virtanen (new discovery at Challenge Cup). Everyone in the Challenge Cup thread referred to Virtanen as "the Spin Doctor." Is he actually a doctor? His skating is so nice to watch, including the spins.

This thread will be fun! :biggrin:
 

FaustinaF

Rinkside
Joined
Aug 24, 2022
Woww, I know I'm gonna love this thread you've just created!!! 😃
I didn't know Andrew Torgashev, I was really interested reading about his artistic skills (I love to paint too!), and I'm just amazed by his choreography's ideas process!! I think one should always feel very much the music and built the program with every choreo detail, to keep consistency between music, rhythm and movements, and I find my ideas about choreography really near to Andrew's.
About Virtanen, I can't say very much, but I know, if I don't committ mistakes, his family with his little daughter were present at Europeans Championship (please correct me if I didn't mantioned the right event!)
 

4everchan

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 7, 2015
Country
Martinique
Bennet Toman
Canadian skater Bennet Toman is a wonderful well-rounded skater. His skating skills and presentation are always polished. Technically, he has been working on quads (sal and toe) but without success in competition. His triple axel is gorgeous and he is at ease with 3-3 combos. Not having solid quads is probably what has prevented him from getting much visibility outside of Canada.

I present you young Bennet in 2014 in his JGP. Almost 10 years ago


We already can see how nice is his basic skating.

One of my favourite programs of his, yes.. on Moulin Rouge but without Roxanne :)




One last one, to show Bennet's versatily. He is one of these skaters who can skate to classical music so well.

If only he had been more consistent...

He skated this year at Nationals, which pleased me a lot.. because I thought he might retire.. he is in his mid twenties now...

It's hard to get out of Canada (even for the top guys, considering Skate Canada doesn't send people their skaters out much) so I thought I would share his gorgeous skating with you all.
 
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TimSparkle

Rinkside
Joined
Oct 20, 2017
Valtter Virtanen (35 years old), Finland, really is a Doctor of Medical Science and has been working through his sports career. His Instagram profile says 16 times national medalist, 7 times national champion, 9 Europeans, 4 times Worlds competitor. Nordic champion from previous season, thank you for correcting me! This season four times over 200 points but missed the Worlds fs tech minimums by 1,29 points. Very inspiring career and he got very good results this season!
 
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TT_Fin

Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Country
Finland
Valtter Virtanen (35 years old), Finland, really is a Doctor of Medical Science and has been working through his sports career. His Instagram profile says 16 times national medalist, 7 times national champion, 9 Europeans, 4 times Worlds competitor. Current Nordic champion. This season four times over 200 points but missed the Worlds fs tech minimums by 1,29 points. Very inspiring career and he got very good results this season!
Valtter is previous Nordic Champion. He did not take part in it this season. Andreas Nordeback, who deserves his on post, won this year. I don't have niw time to write about him or other my favourites as there are many of them who belong to this category. But maybe later.

This is going to be one of my favourite threads. I must click the follow button. Thank you for starting this ❤.
 

skatingfan4ever

"Our blade takes us in the most amazing places."
Medalist
Joined
Nov 3, 2012
Country
United-States
My initial post was already super long, so here's another post with my main sources of info for the post above, if you're interested.

Podcast interview with Polina Edmunds (injuries, recovery, etc)

Podcast interview on the Ice Tea Podcast (interview starts at 28:00; Andrew talks about choreography and answers other fun questions)

To make it super easy for you, here's his 2020 Junior Worlds SP:

And Andrew is one of only four skaters/couples who, for me, have truly made a Moulin Rouge program memorable. Here's probably its best outing, at JGP Kaunas 2018. Not the best jumps, especially in the first half, but my oh my, THE CHOREOGRAPHY! If you're going to skate to Roxanne, you need this sharpness of movement and this level of passion. His speed also builds with the music. So many nice choreographic touches, and from the StSeq to the end is TO DIE FOR!!! :love: This was choreographed by Scott Brown. :clap:

If you want even more details/videos, check out the first post in Andrew's Fan Fest. And if you scroll through the Fan Fest, there's even more, obviously.

For the record, this level of fangirling over Andrew only started for me AFTER he skated so well at 2023 Nationals. I fell in love fast and I fell in love hard. :laugh:
 
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skatingfan4ever

"Our blade takes us in the most amazing places."
Medalist
Joined
Nov 3, 2012
Country
United-States
Valtter Virtanen (35 years old), Finland, really is a Doctor of Medical Science and has been working through his sports career. His Instagram profile says 16 times national medalist, 7 times national champion, 9 Europeans, 4 times Worlds competitor. Current Nordic champion. This season four times over 200 points but missed the Worlds fs tech minimums by 1,29 points. Very inspiring career and he got very good results this season!

Valtter is previous Nordic Champion. He did not take part in it this season. Andreas Nordeback, who deserves his on post, won this year. I don't have niw time to write about him or other my favourites as there are many of them who belong to this category. But maybe later.

This is going to be one of my favourite threads. I must click the follow button. Thank you for starting this ❤.
:thank: both. And you're welcome. I thought there should be a place outside of the competition threads to share info and ask questions, because I know not everyone reads the competition threads, and they also don't need to be made longer than they are. So, here it is in The Edge. Happy to create it. :)
 

ladyjane

Medalist
Joined
Jun 26, 2012
Country
Netherlands
What a wonderful subject! I knew Andrew from when he skated jrs, and I am so pleased he is back and with a vengeance! He is such an impressive skater to watch!

Valtter is a kind of hero to me, and what I like especially is that he can make fun of the fact that he is considered a grandpa (at 35) among the young skaters, Have you ever seen his exhibition that he starts off as an old guy having trouble moving, and then throws off his mask and most of his clothes (although of course he remains decent). I had very much hoped for him to achieve the required minimum TES, but it was not to be for this year! Cross posting from the Nordic Skating thread:

I just found a nice article about Valtter on our Dutch website:
https://www.schaatsen.nl/nieuws/202...r-zitten-valtter-virtanen-nog-niet-in-de-weg/

As I don't expect you to read Dutch, the gist of the article in summary is:
Stopping with Figure Skating? It's not on the agenda yet. 'I seem to get fitter through the years' , says Valtter. He likes skating at Challenge Cup. He might not get high in the rankings but he is popular and he enjoys that the competition is at a high level. Saturday will be important, because it's the last chance to qualify for Worlds (FS minimum TES). He is satisfied with his score on the SP. He is hopeful. He looks back on a great Euros (14th, the highest placement ever for him). Great because it was in Finland too! He did lots of other sports but he is entangled with Figure Skating and thinks it is good to keep up the stamina, it helps his work as a Doctor as well.

I also like watching Nikita Starostin, skating for Germany (originally from Russia). He might not have the biggest jumps yet, but he is rather musical and the German federation should cherish having this talented guy among their skaters. I might have more less well-known skaters I know a bit about, but maybe later. As I said, this thread opens up a whole new chapter for me, and I'll probably come back again and again!
 

skatingfan4ever

"Our blade takes us in the most amazing places."
Medalist
Joined
Nov 3, 2012
Country
United-States
He is not competing anymore, but I think everyone should know about Sean Rabbitt from the USA. He did not have a quad or a 3A, but he competed for many years with so much joy at US Nationals. In fact, he didn't land his first clean triple until he was 18 and says that jumps are meant to be learned by older skaters who are stronger, and that long-lasting development in the sport favors older skaters (pardon my woefully inadequate summary). His first Nationals was in 2011, he did not qualify in 2012, but he then made it back every year from 2013 to 2020. His best finish was 8th a couple of times. Andrew Torgashev had to qualify this year because he's been so injured, but Sean Rabbitt had to qualify the hard way every year, and he did. A program I will always remember from him is East of Eden. Here it is in 2019. (He's crying at the end because it was going to be his last Nationals but then he decided to do one more year). I remember his 2020 SP as also being amazing but I can't find a video.

He competed at a few Challengers through the years and was the bronze medalist at 2015 Autumn Classic. His big final goal was to get selected for a Grand Prix, which unfortunately didn't happen but he's okay with it.

He stopped competing after 2020 Nationals at age 29 and is now a coach and choreographer. He has spoken out about struggling with body image as a male figure skater. In 2022, he performed at An Evening with Champions. I find him soothing to watch.

And, here's an article where Sean reflects on his career: https://figureskatersonline.com/news/2020/11/17/sean-rabbitt-looks-back-on-his-competitive-career/. I recommend reading the whole thing. It's long but so worth it. This is a case in point of a skater working so hard in the shadows in the slow process toward improvement. He stuck it out and I am glad he did.

If you'd also like to listen to Sean talk about skating here's a couple of podcast interviews with him. Both are VERY worth listening to. Sean is a very articulate person.



Ending with some rapid-fire facts, here's "what you need to know about Sean in 15 seconds." One thing is he speaks Japanese fluently.
 
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Jeanie19

Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 20, 2017
Country
United-States
He is not competing anymore, but I think everyone should know about Sean Rabbitt from the USA. He did not have a quad or a 3A, but he competed for many years with so much joy at US Nationals. In fact, he didn't land his first clean triple until he was 18 and says that jumps are meant to be learned by older skaters who are stronger, and that long-lasting development in the sport favors older skaters (pardon my woefully inadequate summary). His first Nationals was in 2011, he did not qualify in in 2012, but he then made it every year from 2013 to 2020. His best finish was 8th a couple of times. Andrew Torgashev had to qualify this year because he's been so injured, but Sean Rabbitt had to qualify the hard way every year, and he did. A program I will always remember from him is East of Eden. Here it is in 2019. (He's crying at the end because it was going to be his last Nationals but then he decided to do one more year). I remember his 2020 SP as also being amazing but I can't find a video.

He competed at a few Challengers through the years and was the bronze medalist at 2015 Autumn Classic. His big final goal was to get selected for a Grand Prix, which unfortunately didn't happen but he's okay with it.

He stopped competing after 2020 Nationals and is now a coach and choreographer. He has spoken out about struggling with body image as a male figure skater. In 2022, he performed at An Evening with Champions. I find him soothing to watch.

And, here's an article where Sean reflects on his career: https://figureskatersonline.com/news/2020/11/17/sean-rabbitt-looks-back-on-his-competitive-career/. I recommend reading the whole thing. It's long but so worth it. This is a case in point of a skater working so hard in the shadows in the slow process toward improvement. He stuck it out and I am glad he did.

If you'd also like to listen to Sean talk about skating here's a couple of podcast interviews with him. Both are VERY worth listening to. Sean is a very articulate person.



Ending with some rapid-fire facts, here's "what you need to know about Sean in 15 seconds." One thing is he speaks Japanese fluently.

Sean was a delight to watch. He was and is a fantastic showman.
 

iluvtodd

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 5, 2004
Country
United-States
He is not competing anymore, but I think everyone should know about Sean Rabbitt from the USA. He did not have a quad or a 3A, but he competed for many years with so much joy at US Nationals. In fact, he didn't land his first clean triple until he was 18 and says that jumps are meant to be learned by older skaters who are stronger, and that long-lasting development in the sport favors older skaters (pardon my woefully inadequate summary). His first Nationals was in 2011, he did not qualify in 2012, but he then made it back every year from 2013 to 2020. His best finish was 8th a couple of times. Andrew Torgashev had to qualify this year because he's been so injured, but Sean Rabbitt had to qualify the hard way every year, and he did. A program I will always remember from him is East of Eden. Here it is in 2019. (He's crying at the end because it was going to be his last Nationals but then he decided to do one more year). I remember his 2020 SP as also being amazing but I can't find a video.

He competed at a few Challengers through the years and was the bronze medalist at 2015 Autumn Classic. His big final goal was to get selected for a Grand Prix, which unfortunately didn't happen but he's okay with it.

He stopped competing after 2020 Nationals at age 29 and is now a coach and choreographer. He has spoken out about struggling with body image as a male figure skater. In 2022, he performed at An Evening with Champions. I find him soothing to watch.

And, here's an article where Sean reflects on his career: https://figureskatersonline.com/news/2020/11/17/sean-rabbitt-looks-back-on-his-competitive-career/. I recommend reading the whole thing. It's long but so worth it. This is a case in point of a skater working so hard in the shadows in the slow process toward improvement. He stuck it out and I am glad he did.

If you'd also like to listen to Sean talk about skating here's a couple of podcast interviews with him. Both are VERY worth listening to. Sean is a very articulate person.



Ending with some rapid-fire facts, here's "what you need to know about Sean in 15 seconds." One thing is he speaks Japanese fluently.
We had the pleasure of meeting Sean Rabbitt for the first time @ the 2010 Liberty Skating Competition (now known as the Philadelphia International Summer Competition) in Aston, PA. Sean made an impression on us immediately. His short program was to a Michael Jackson medley. The performance had its issues, but it was so much fun & enjoyable. You could see back then that Sean was a charismatic skater. His free skate for the 2010/2011 was "The Offspring of Dragons" (I recognized the music which I loved. When I asked Sean about the music, he said it was the music that the Chinese pairs team Zhang & Zhang skated to in 2006). We were in Detroit for US Nationals in 2019 when Sean skated his definitive "East of Eden" program (my favorite performance of it for him). You could see the tears in his eyes. We are grateful for the many times he skated in our relatively local summer competition, and the several Nationals during which he had competed that we were fortunate enough to attend (2011, 2015, 2020 - Greensboro, NC, 2017 - Kansas City, MO, 2014 - Boston, MA, 2019 - Detroit, MI,), We attended Nationals in Nashville last year, and were hoping to see Sean in the concourse. Well, Sean came to our section, said "Hello" to us, and sat with us for a few minutes just before the men's final. That made my day (& week)!

So thrilled for Andrew Torgashev, whom we first got to see skate @ the summer competition in Aston, PA. When he won the US Junior Men's title in 2015, his grandfather (who didn't speak much English) was sitting in our section. He was beaming with joy for his grandson. I congratulated him, he gave me a promotional post card of Andrew. Needless to say, it was a very sweet moment for him & it was a pleasure to see Andrew skate so well. We've missed him through the years (considering the injuries he's had), but are so glad he's back!

Bennet Toman is another skater we've been delighted to see skate in Aston, PA.

Valtter's frozen lake videos are lovely to watch!
 
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essence_of_soy

On the Ice
Joined
Jan 22, 2004
What a great thread.

I became an instant fan of the brand new US junior pair team, Naomi Williams and Lachlan Lewer. They are so new, they didn't even compete on the ISU Junior Grand Prix Circuit in 2022, and had to pre-qualify for the World Junior Championship after winning silver at the 2023 US Championships via the Bavarian Open (which they won).

They have a on-ice quality about them which is so natural and engaging, too.

As a side note, in 2018 I saw Lachlan skate in the Novice Men's category at the Australian Championships in Sydney. He was very competent and had excellent basic technique. What I find amazing that his level of performance skyrocketed as a pair skater. It is definitely his calling.
 

skatingfan4ever

"Our blade takes us in the most amazing places."
Medalist
Joined
Nov 3, 2012
Country
United-States
This thread should come with a warning: "Visit only when you have plenty of time, because it is likely you will want to go down an internet rabbit hole from reading these posts." :laugh2: I should clarify that certainly on my own posts I know there is more than what I've shared here, even though I've been very detailed. For instance, another detail I just found is that Sean Rabbitt self-choreographed his programs! :love: And the YouTube Channel where I found his East of Eden is called "SeanRabbittCafe" and appears to be made by a Japanese person, and there are more videos there, as well as on On Ice Perspectives. So, please don't take what I write in any of these posts as the end-all, be-all of skater information. There is more, so go down your own rabbit hole and share your finds with us. Happy hunting! :biggrin: (No Sean Rabbitt puns intended :laugh:).
 
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lariko

Medalist
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Country
Canada
As far as skaters I'd like to know more about, tell me more about Sam Mindra (new discovery at US Nationals) and Valtter Virtanen (new discovery at Challenge Cup). Everyone in the Challenge Cup thread referred to Virtanen as "the Spin Doctor." Is he actually a doctor? His skating is so nice to watch, including the spins.
The trouble with him is that he can neither get Finland two spots in men, nor they would ever let Suntsev win over him because of the ‘fan love factor’. And Suntsev is fantastic. Just saw him live in JWC, and he could be a decoration for any fed. And gosh, that strap… I almost cried. What a fantastic skater.
 

TT_Fin

Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Country
Finland
The trouble with him is that he can neither get Finland two spots in men, nor they would ever let Suntsev win over him because of the ‘fan love factor’. And Suntsev is fantastic. Just saw him live in JWC, and he could be a decoration for any fed. And gosh, that strap… I almost cried. What a fantastic skater.
Finland has very clear rules who get the spot in big comps. Makar was near but then Valtter had good season and got better scores. They count togethe two best comps and another one must be international one. If the best scores are from international then those only are count. From nationals they count only championships or qualifications for natilnal championships, not both and if international scores are better, nationals will not be count at all.
 
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noskates

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
I don't know too much about Sam but he was a wonderful surprise at Nationals. I honestly had not heard of him and we were all shocked when we watched his long program. He's also very shy and humble. He was sitting by us and I asked to take his picture to send to El Henry. He was very gracious but almost embarassed by the attention. He has all the goods - just needs some seasoning. That seems to be my favorite phrase these days.
 

skatingfan4ever

"Our blade takes us in the most amazing places."
Medalist
Joined
Nov 3, 2012
Country
United-States
I don't know too much about Sam but he was a wonderful surprise at Nationals. I honestly had not heard of him and we were all shocked when we watched his long program. He's also very shy and humble. He was sitting by us and I asked to take his picture to send to El Henry. He was very gracious but almost embarassed by the attention. He has all the goods - just needs some seasoning. That seems to be my favorite phrase these days.

Me too! He is completely new to me. I LOVED his SP in particular, and his joy while skating and in the K&C. All I know so far I found on his USFS Fan Zone page (https://usfigureskatingfanzone.com/sports/figure-skating/roster/samuel-mindra/532). He is from Portland, has 9 siblings, and was the US Junior bronze medalist in 2021. He turns 20 this June. This year was his Senior Nationals debut and he finished 9th! :cheer2:

How wonderful that you got to meet him in person! :love:

I figured out how to download the full VK streams and then extract Sam's programs from them. (Total aside: I'm not that familiar with video editing, so it was time-consuming to figure out but TOTALLY worth the effort, and if there's a next time I will be able do it much faster). No commentary, full crowd reaction, full replays and K&C. (I also extracted the programs of Andrew Torgashev and Jason Brown. It should surprise no one who's read my posts in this very thread why I specifically wanted those 6 programs ;)).

So, without further ado, here they are:
 
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essence_of_soy

On the Ice
Joined
Jan 22, 2004
This thread should come with a warning: "Visit only when you have plenty of time, because it is likely you will want to go down an internet rabbit hole from reading these posts." :laugh2: I should clarify that certainly on my own posts I know there is more than what I've shared here, even though I've been very detailed. For instance, another detail I just found is that Sean Rabbitt self-choreographed his programs! :love: And the YouTube Channel where I found his East of Eden is called "SeanRabbittCafe" and appears to be made by a Japanese person, and there are more videos there, as well as on On Ice Perspectives. So, please don't take what I write in any of these posts as the end-all, be-all of skater information. There is more, so go down your own rabbit hole and share your finds with us. Happy hunting! :biggrin: (No Sean Rabbitt puns intended :laugh:).
Going down the Sean Rabbitt hole, and I am all for it. It was so touching to see his tears after that magical short program skate in 2019.

Thank you for posting that.

I have Facebook friends who are friends with him, and word on the street is Sean is a terrific (and humble) guy.
Adding to this thread, there was a guy in the Junior Men's category at this year's US Nationals who is such an amazing performer as well.

Kirk Haugeto clearly loves to skate.


 

essence_of_soy

On the Ice
Joined
Jan 22, 2004
Me too! He is completely new to me. I LOVED his SP in particular, and his joy while skating and in the K&C. All I know so far I found on his USFS Fan Zone page (https://usfigureskatingfanzone.com/sports/figure-skating/roster/samuel-mindra/532). He is from Portland, has 9 siblings, and was the US Junior bronze medalist in 2021. He turns 20 this June. This year was his Senior Nationals debut and he finished 9th! :cheer2:

How wonderful that you got to meet him in person! :love:

I figured out how to download the full VK streams and then extract Sam's programs from them. (Total aside: I'm not that familiar with video editing, so it was time-consuming to figure out but TOTALLY worth the effort, and if there's a next time I will be able do it much faster). No commentary, full crowd reaction, full replays and K&C. (I also extracted the programs of Andrew Torgashev and Jason Brown. It should surprise no one who's read my posts in this very thread why I specifically wanted those 6 programs ;)).

So, without further ado, here they are:
Love Sam Mindra. How some skaters are able to take the restrictions of IJS and turn it into art and entertainment, simply blows my mind.
 

lariko

Medalist
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Country
Canada
Finland has very clear rules who get the spot in big comps. Makar was near but then Valtter had good season and got better scores. They count togethe two best comps and another one must be international one. If the best scores are from international then those only are count. From nationals they count only championships or qualifications for natilnal championships, not both and if international scores are better, nationals will not be count at all.
I am going to be rooting for Suntsev from yesterday on! The outrage was that Pitot today also had a strap came lose, but he was allowed to finish his SS without penalty that cost Suntsev the spot in the free. I thought it was really unfair!
 
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