"During my senior seasons, I have experienced everything you can get"
Teemu Hintikka has spent the last four years with the ISU senior team Lumineers in Espoo, Finland. (Credits: Matti Sten)
Teemu Hintikka has been thinking about the end of his career for several years. After one year of pandemic, this skater from the senior ISU team Lumineers in Finland quits the competition level but already has new projects in the synchro world. Interview
He has skated for 19 years, and he has spent the last four years skating with the ISU senior team Lumineers in Espoo. "Synchronized skating has not been very popular among men in Finland, and during the last season, I was the only male synchronized skater in the ISU teams in Finland," he continued.
What did he do before skating with Lumineers?
The young athlete skated in Jyväskylä for more than ten years, and it soon became a pastime activity for the whole family as his younger sister started synchronized skating, his mum was their team manager, and his dad was on the club board. "During the years in Jyväskylä, the skaters remained almost the same as we moved up the competition series from Juveniles and Advanced Novices to ISU Juniors and Mixed Age."
In Lumineers, Teemu learned many physical and technical skills about synchronized skating elements and skating itself. "I also learned a lot about the meaning of team spirit and working hard together towards our goals. In the ISU senior category in Finland, there are three world champion teams, and despite that, we in Lumineers were more certain after every competition that our hard work will pay off someday!"
His decision was also affected by the current rules, which emphasize flexibility. "For example, the spiral position in the senior short program has been quite difficult for me, but you need to be flexible enough if you want to compete in both the short and the free programs. I also felt like I will be able to develop the sport better in the future in other roles than as a skater."
"Most of all, I missed all the international competitions during the last season, which I like a lot! It’s nice to travel with your friends and show your skills to an international panel of judges and audience, as well as to compare your skills with other international teams." Teemu especially appreciated competing at the Finlandia Trophy competition in Espoo. "However, I’m already looking forward to competitions in my new role as a coach!"
"Synchronized skating has offered me knowledge of learning physical skills, growing physically and psychologically into an athlete, setting goals, perseverance, collaborative skills, and thousands of other aspects I think are the most central in succeeding in sports. I would like to share my expertise with the future skater generations and offer them as unique experiences as I have from my career."
From his point of view, the best learning outcomes and a safe learning atmosphere come "as a result of collaboration between pedagogically skilled coaches and independent and eager athletes. At the same time, it's awesome to get to raise skilled future Lumineers skaters!"
First of all, Teemu and some teammates are developing alumni activity between former Lumineers skaters. "Our goal is to support the team as much as possible in different ways. Plus, I cheer as much as possible for my girlfriend, who is still skating in Lumineers," he said.
Growing as a coach and learning to become a competition director
"Beyond that, I want to grow into as good a coach as possible and share my expertise with the new generation of skaters. I also want to learn as much as possible about the sport from another perspective. Besides coaching, I also train to be a competition director for our club’s competitions, and I will gain experience by joining the organization team in international competitions organized by the Finnish Skating Federation."
"During my years in Lumineers, we founded a social media phenomenon called Kindergarten which included four Lumineers skaters, me, Noora Solaranta, Isa Saarniala, and Fanny Mansikka. The idea started as an inside joke during the first senior season. We made an Instagram account where we shared funny moments. But the account unexpectedly aroused interest outside of the team, and we gained a lot of followers, especially from younger skating teams and grown-up skating fans. Social media also often gives a very polished and unrealistic picture of senior skating life, and we wanted to bring the followers closer to everything that skating in ISU senior contains."
The "Kindergarten" tour
A year ago, before the Covid situation got bad in Finland, Teemu did a tour around the country with Fanny, Isa, and Noora. "Our goal was to make senior skating more familiar to skaters from other cities than the metropolitan area." They visited four cities and hosted practice sessions and conversations where the younger skaters got to ask them questions about skating and overall life.
Later on, he would also like to become a judge or technical specialist. As a whole, he would like to develop synchronized skating in different roles, both in Finland and internationally.