The season resumes on Saturday with 36 participating teams
What will be the new ideas and creations? We will find out this weekend. (Credits: Antti Lehto - 2020)
Finland's first synchronized skating qualifiers will be held next weekend (November 7-8) in Tampere. If the competition could still be cancelled, the organizer, the Tappara Figure Skating club, has done everything it can to make the competition a success. Jutta Rouru, the leader of the competition describes the arrangements and talks about the challenges.
When did you start organizing the competition?
Jutta Rouru: We started to plan the competition in the summer, but the situation was very uncertain due to the epidemic. At first, we hoped that it would be possible to arrange the competition under normal conditions, but as autumn progressed, the infections have been on the rise, and it has had a significant impact on event planning. It feels like we have already planned many competitions so far when there have been so many alternative scenarios during the project.
We have a core team assembled of about 10 people. Starting the competition arrangements with little certainty about restrictions was very challenging. Together with my fellow competition leader Mila Ratas, we worked together to plan how we can make this event possible. This also required co-operation with the Finnish skating union. As we have gained more reassurance that the competition will be held, several people have shared the tasks. It is difficult to make decisions in uncertainty, and many months have passed, always waiting for new restrictions and policies. Getting closer to the competition, it is easier to act as we know what regulations are in place, and we follow the Covid-19 situation very closely.
We have cooperated with the union in the arrangements. Safety guidelines and practices differ from previous seasons, and operating methods must be agreed upon in cooperation and considered from different perspectives.
What currently seems to be the biggest challenge in organizing the competition?
Of course, the infections. The competition arrangements must proceed as if “there were no corona,” and yet there is a risk that the event can be canceled if the covid-19 situation escalates. The organizing team must tolerate considerable uncertainty to work on such a large event in a situation where everything can change at short notice.
All teams have registered for the competition (4 Senior teams, 13 Junior teams, and 19 Advanced Novice teams). We wondered on Sunday night if some of the teams had decided to skip the competition, but all registrations came in.
Did you have to build the competition schedule differently?
Different things need to be taken into account when drawing up schedules during these exceptional times. We will introduce a registration period for the teams, and from the beginning of the event, all usage schedules of the rink are staggered. Clean-ups of the changing rooms are planned between teams' use, and more space should be reserved so that the whole schedule is not stretched too much.
We have divided the hall into blocks, and there is no passage between them. We try to ensure that teams do not encounter other teams and contacts are minimized. The use of facemasks is, of course, also essential. We want to start the season so that the next competitions can be held safely as well. We aim to build the teams' conditions to show their skills and minimize unnecessary risks. The most important thing about organizing this competition is everyone’s health.
Are there any restrictions on the number of audiences? How is the filling of the auditoriums handled to meet the safety gap requirements? Do you require the public to wear masks?
Yes, the use of facemasks is a prerequisite for us to organize such an event. We need to set aside more space for teams and keep teams separate from the audience. This leaves fewer seats available for the audiences. We have three stands available for audiences, and seats are left between different groups. November regulations were published with under 2 weeks to the competition. Now it looks like we can move forward with the audience plan, and tickets will come on sale on Saturday, one week before the competition.
Unfortunately, no, they can´t. This time we also cannot provide facilities for fan product selling points.
Probably more volunteers are needed than usual. Have you been successful in recruiting?
Recruiting volunteers for a large event is different under these conditions. We must prepare with spares for each role in case of illness or quarantine. Some people have also been advised by their employers to avoid large events. We are fortunate that we have many eager volunteers coming to create this event! Volunteers are also trained on safety procedures before the event.
Is the competition available on some live streaming channels?
Yes, Skating Finland and Ruutu + (in Finland) are streaming the competition.
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We have not discussed virtual competition. Empty stands are currently one scenario we have prepared for in the arrangements. However, we hope that the restrictions will make it possible to hold a competition in front of the public.
Indeed, so many countries in Europe or elsewhere are severely suffering the consequences of a second wave of the epidemic (lockdown, stoppages of ice training, even closures of ice rinks), Finland is once again a good student. Let's just hope everything can be maintained this weekend in Tampere.
More about this competition
Results - TOP 3
Finnish first qualifications 2020
NOV 07, 2020 - NOV 08, 2020
|3||Diamond Edges (FIN)||74.81|
|1||Helsinki Rockettes (FIN)||216.08|
|2||Team Unique (FIN)||207.71|
|3||Marigold IceUnity (FIN)||193.06|
|1||Dream Edges (FIN)||184.08|
|2||Team Fintastic (FIN)||181.28|
|3||Team Mystique (FIN)||167.38|
|1||Valley Bay Synchronics (FIN)||85.06|
|2||Team Dynamique (FIN)||83.38|