Despite the pandemic, they decided to go skating abroad


Discover six synchro skaters' experience around the world (images' order): Venla, Eman Noel, Linda, Chloe, Mertcan and Isabella. (Credits: Skate Synchro Photo, Johannes Ollikainen, and skaters' photos)

Covid or not, some synchro skaters have listened to their hearts and pursued their dream. Discover the first part of this series of articles devoted to these athletes who have not been slowed down by the pandemic... on the contrary!

Part 1: The Wish To Skate Abroad
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"I first got the idea of skating abroad in the World Championships in 2019 when I first saw senior teams from all around the world. My love for the sport has only grown over the years, and I’m sure that I’m not ready to stop skating yet. I've also always wanted to live abroad, so this seemed like a good solution," starts Venla Asikainen from Finland, who has been accepted in the team Hot Shivers Senior and will move in April to Italy.

Venla Asikainen (Credits: Petri Pakarinen - 2021)

"I thought a lot about other teams and also contacted a few other teams in Europe. In the end, I chose Italy and team Hot Shivers because it is one of the best teams in the continent and because, based on social media, they have a really good team spirit. They seem to train purposefully and together towards common goals," explains Venla, who is actually skating in Les Miracles, a Junior B team in Finland.

"Anyhow, I have been accepted into the team! So I will be skating there next season. It is a huge deal to move to another country. I have never even been to Italy before!" At only 19 years old, Venla should be able to move in April.

For the Australian synchro skater Eman Noel Donaire, skating with a high-level international team has always been an aspiration. "Ever since having competed in my first international competition at French Cup 2014, I was left with a burning desire to be on an international team. I’ve always enjoyed learning different styles of skating, and I knew skating abroad would be a whole new learning curve," says this 23 years old athlete who has been selected to skate with Nova Senior in Canada.

"With the experience, I’m hoping to learn skating abroad, I’d be able to one day past onto fellow skaters back at home," he adds. 

How did Eman choose Canada and Nova Senior?

"Competing alongside Nova at 2019 Worlds was simply amazing. I was blown away with both of their programs, the power, unison and creativity were simply inspiring. Being an Australian and part of the commonwealth obtaining a working holiday visa, was important to me as I’d be supporting myself abroad. The challenge of learning another language also appealed to me and there is no better way than immersing yourself," explains Eman Noel Donaire. Originally from Sydney, Australia, he left Australia last year in June 2020.

Linda Viikki from Espoo, Finland, 23, also chose Canada. "I have always dreamed about it, but it's a really big decision to go skating abroad, and that's why it's been a dream for me for a long time", explains this athlete who has skated synchro for 14 years. 

Especially skating in Canada has always been her biggest "secret" dream. "I hadn't told anyone that skating in Canada is my dream. Before the last spring, I didn't think that I would skate abroad, but fortunately, I saw an announcement on Instagram that Nova senior is looking for skaters, and then at that moment, I decided to be crazy and make my dreams come true.

I didn't think about it much and just sent the email that I'm interested in being a part of this team. I thought that skating abroad gives more than it takes. It's a perfect opportunity to live in a different country and to learn new languages and get to know new people," she says.

Linda Viikki has skated in Lumineers. (Credits: Johannes Ollikainen)

Linda likes Canada as a country. "I chose Nova Senior because I have always liked their programs and their skating style. The team is quite new in the ISU senior category, and they seemed fresh. I was impressed by how difficult their programs were and how fast they glided on the ice.

Their skating looked so easy and powerful. Nova Senior as a team seemed really hardworking, ambitious and goal-directed. Of course, the head coach and the coaching team seemed professional. There were many reasons why this team seemed perfect for me," adds Linda, who have skated two seasons in the senior team Lumineers in Finland.

The Canadian dream also won over two foreign skaters. Chloe Buglar from Australia and Mertcan Pak from Turkey. Both had dreamed of skating with the team Nexxice for a long time. 

"I was inspired from my experience at 2014 Worlds where I watched Nexxice Senior win the Silver Medal. From then I was always in awe of their incredible skating skills, story telling and all-around composure. I attended the Nexxice International Skills camp in 2018 which was my first time visiting Canada, and I had such an amazing experience at the camp and fell in love with Canada, I just knew that was the place I was meant to be," explains Chloe, 21 years old, who grew up in sunny Brisbane, Australia. 

Mertcan Pak skated seven seasons for Team Vizyon (TUR), 1 year in Junior and 6 years in Senior.

Mertcan Pak has also always appreciated Nexxice’s style and skating skills. "The first time I saw them skating live was at the Worlds 2016 in Budapest; it was love at first sight. Every year they have impressed me even more with their programs and storytelling; their unique knee action was exceptional. I reckon each season prepared me to take a step towards my dream, and the outburst of Covid-19 also gave me extra time and energy to take that step," he says.

And why Canada? "Canada is famous for its ice-rinks and outdoor skating, so I guess Canada can be the dreamland for skating, and Nexxice's presence there was the ultimate combination of my dreams and aims," Mertcan Pak, 24 years. He graduated from Hacettepe University and currently working home-office and doing freelance translations.

Member of the Austrian team Sweet Mozart, Isabella Messinger, 25 years old, also decided to travel to another country this year to skate synchro. "We didn't have enough skaters for a Senior team. As I still wanted to continue with synchro, I was looking for alternatives," she explains.

The city of Brno, where the Team Darlings trains, is not far away from Vienna, where she lives (about 2 hours by train). "The second reason was that I speak Czech and thought that it's also a good opportunity to practice my language skills. Thirdly, I watched the Team Darlings at Spring Cup and was impressed by their powerful programs," continues Isabella.

Isabella Messinger skating with Sweet Mozart.

Six skaters, six dreams!

Discover the second episode of these skaters' adventures that nothing will stop. You will learn how the selections went and their expectations in their new team.