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Lumineers is Finland’s first ISU Senior Elite 12 team


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The two competition programmes’ requirement level, length and number of elements are the same for both senior categories. The compulsory elements and rules are tailored for both number of skaters. (Credits: Matti Sten)

Team Lumineers Synchronized Skating from Finland is paving the way for synchronized skating to become an Olympic sport in the future. With twelve skaters on the ice, there is more space allowing increased speed and faster transitions.

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Texte : Catarina Stewen
Photos : Matti Sten

The International Skating Union ISU has officially announced the Senior Elite 12 category from this season 22/23 with the aim to introduce synchronized skating in the Olympic Winter Games. Team Lumineers Synchronized Skating has taken up the challenge and is this season competing in the new category, parallel with the sixteen-skater senior competition category.

"Fifteen years ago, synchronized skating changed when we moved from twenty skaters to sixteen," says Lumineers’ head coach Liisa Lakela. "However, we adapted to this quickly. Now we are again at a crossroad, where the twelve-skater senior category is a new possibility to advance the sport." 

"Synchronized skating has in the past years been increasingly inspired by other skating categories, such as single skating, pair skating and ice dance," coach Jenni Rahko continues. "In order to continue the development, we need more space on the ice, and with twelve skaters this can be achieved."

Practice is more efficient with a smaller team
There are many benefits with a smaller team size. The ice time can be used more efficiently when there is no waiting time standing in line and practices have become more physical. Interaction between skaters is more intense and the coaches have time to give feedback immediately.   

"The training becomes more individual in a smaller team," Lakela says. "We can use speed in a completely different way than before, which has been one of our targets," Rahko adds. "Every skater is clearly more visible now as there are no hiding places. Other types of shapes and formations are possible compared to sixteen skaters." 

Lumineers’ Captains Kia Janatuinen and Pinja Sten agree with their coaches. "In the beginning, practices were harder than before, because we didn’t have breaks, there was more space on the ice, and we skated faster. But we became used to it quickly. Due to the smaller team size, we also found our team spirit and became friends with our new teammates in no time," Janatuinen and Sten emphasize.


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Lumineers is the first team in Finland paving the way for synchro to become an Olympic sport. (Credits: Matti Sten)

More balance in life
With the more efficient training time, the coaches have introduced improvements in schedules to help skaters lead a more balanced life. 

"Finding time for studies, work and top-level skating is challenging, therefore many quit their skating career after junior-age," Lakela says.

"For this season, we decided to try a five-day training routine, of which one day is done remotely. It includes a personalised gym-session, off-ice and an optional skating skills training. Recovery is more efficient, and time is saved, when skaters have one day weekly, they don’t have to travel to the ice rink for practice. They can also choose their training time independently to fit other schedules," she explains. 


Preparing for competition season as before
Lumineers’ competitors are all on the international stage, as there are no other twelve-skater senior teams in Finland yet.

"Our aim is to participate in international competitions where there are other Elite 12-teams, apart from Finnish competitions. Currently, we are preparing for the competition season in the same way as in previous years following the same competition schedule as the other top teams in Finland," Lakela emphasizes. 


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Lumineers last season. (Credits: Ville Vairinen - 2021)

The two competition programmes’ requirement level, length and number of elements are the same for both senior categories. However, some of the elements and rules are tailored for twelve skaters.

"As an example, the whip intersection does not look as impressive with a smaller team, therefore we have planned something else," Rahko says.

Lumineers’ programmes for this season also bring something new to the scene. "Our short programme is fast and fun, while our free programme is more modern. We wanted to create a positive vibe after all dark times. The new team size allows us more space to perform other types of formations with more speed," the coaches say. 

First in Finland
After last season, there were many changes in the team. When ISU confirmed that Elite 12 will become an official category parallel to the sixteen-skater senior category, it felt as the right option. 

"We are extremely excited to be the first ones in Finland to compete with twelve skaters. It allows us to show other teams where the sport is heading in the future and what possibilities it brings," Lakela says."

Although the season is only beginning and many things are still open, we’ve noticed that coaching can clearly become more individualised and more professional with a smaller team. It is possible that the top teams are heading this way, especially if Olympic status is achieved," the coaches ponder.

Lumineers is coached by Liisa Lakela, Henriikka Latva and Jenni Rahko.


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Currently Lumineers is preparing for the competition season in the same way as in previous years. Their first performance is at Finlandia Trophy 8th October 2022, in Espoo, Finland. (Credits: Matti Sten)

Facts about the Elite 12 category
The International Skating Union ISU has officially announced the Senior Elite 12 category from this season 22/23 with the aim to introduce synchronized skating in the Olympic Winter Games. Last season was a trial and this season the twelve-skater senior teams compete parallel with the sixteen-skater senior teams.

The two competition programmes’ requirement level, length and number of elements are the same for both senior categories. The compulsory elements and rules are tailored for both number of skaters.

Lumineers is the first team in Finland competing in the twelve-skater senior category. During this season, they will participate in Finnish competitions and international competitions, giving priority to those where other Elite 12 teams are present. Their first performance is at Finlandia Trophy in Espoo, Finland, on 8th October 2022.

The original article was published in Finnish at SkatingFinland.fi

Results - TOP 3

Finlandia Trophy 2022
Espoo (FIN)
OCT 08, 2022 - OCT 08, 2022

Senior
TEAM Score
1Helsinki Rockettes (FIN)68.00
2Marigold IceUnity (FIN)67.74
3Haydenettes (USA)63.32