Former world-class skaters have created a new synchro team


Fourteen former MIU skaters are on the team. (Credits: Janne Koistinen - 2018)

"Currently, we are just enjoying being back on the ice," explained one of the skaters of the new EX IT team based in Helsinki, Finland, made up of former Marigold IceUnity athletes.

11 teams nine years ago, 12 teams six years ago, 13 teams four years ago... And now 15!

As Finnish coach Anu Oksanen wrote at the end of 2021, fifteen synchro teams now make up her club, Helsingin Luistelijat ry. based in Helsinki, Finland. 

She never thought that so many teams would develop in the last years: "When I came to this club they had two teams. Little by little the number grew. At most I think I would coach six different teams. From Marigold to adults and little beginners".

(Credits: Anu Oksanen - 2021)

Since the beginning of the season, two new teams have been added to their synchro family. The latest is team EX-IT, composed of all former MIU skaters. The team isn’t competing (yet), but enjoy being back on the ice doing what they love. They even performed in their club's show, wearing different costumes from their MIU careers. 

"Oh it was so wonderful to see them on the ice. All the years of practice, the experience. Even with just little time they had to put something together to show people, they still managed to look good and confident. Making it look so easy. But hey they've worked years to get to the top of our sport, so why not just enjoy the skills they have accomplished and all the work they have done during their long career," said Anu Oksanen, their former head coach.

The team EX IT doesn't actually have a coach. "Everyone is participating with ideas and exercises and few skaters that have coached or are still coaching are taking more part in the coaching. Most of us have skated together for years so it's quite easy and we are quite self-oriented," explained a skater.

"Most of our skaters continued skating"
Anu Oksanen is super happy that her club has been able to not just keep the teams they've had but add two more.

"I know the pandemic surely has had an effect on all of us, and in some of our teams, there are not quite as many skaters as we would hope. I'm happy most of our skaters continued skating, though last season was really tough for everyone and especially to those skaters who weren't allowed to skate/practice/get together and didn't have any competitions last season," said the famous coach.

The challenge is even greater in view of the increasingly high level requested from the athletes.

"The requirements are more difficult. The level of skating has become higher within just a few years. Skaters must be multi-talented and be able to do just about everything, so that is what we try to work on their skills at practice in many ways, both on and off the ice.

From improving basic skating to working on skating skills in general to working on lifts and other difficult acrobatic like elements. Working on individual skills and elements that need to be done together. From basics to highest technical level requirements. Somehow we very often go back to the basics... And of course, in addition to all this is the artistic part of skating; interpretation, use of the whole body to interpret the music, story and feelings," said Anu Oksanen.

Anu Oksanen in 2018 (Credits: Janne Koistinen)

With 15 synchro teams, including the two new ones - EX IT and Ice Eclipse competing in the Masters category -, the club Helsingin Luistelijat ry. is the largest club in the Helsinki area.

"I think we are the biggest in many ways. Surely we have most teams in one club and our club is also the biggest figure skating club in Finland," concluded Anu Oksanen.