Early article published in a weekly magazine “Apu” (2003, April 4th)
Kiira Korpi wants to make it on her own
Figure skating prospect
Kiira Korpi, 14, is doing the spins in the big rink of HakametsÃ¤ Ice Hall, famous for its ice hockey. The skill and grace of the young figure skater fills the hall even if the stands are empty during the training.
Kiira, 164 cm and 52 kg, enjoys her skating.
– My size is quite right for this sport. The bigger you are, of course the more impressive you look, but if you are smaller, you can better control yourself and your movements, Kiira says.
At the same time, standing on the familiar team bench in his former place of employment, there is Rauno Korpi. He is watching her daughter’s art, but glances a couple of times also at the ceiling of the ice hall. There hangs the championship flags of Tampere hockey clubs. Korpi’s and Tappara’s championship in 1988 has remained the last one until this spring. That third consecutive year of Tappara’s championship saw also the birth of daughter to the Korpi family, Kiira, who already has grown to be Nordic Champion in her sport. Also in this season she entered first time onto the World Championship level ice in Czech Republic. She finished 7th in her group, even when her oldest rivals were already 18 years of age.
From the start Kiira has wanted to emphasize her independence, that the skating is her own thing.
– I guess I was 5-year-old, when I first time came to the skating school, here in this same hall. We lived very near here, so fortunately I didn’t need the help from my parents for transportation, Kiira, the member of Tappara figure skating club, says.
– My sister, who is a couple of years older than me, and a friend of my own age, Elisa Innanen, urged me to the skates.
Did your father try to push you to ladies’ ice hockey?
– No, and I wouldn’t have been interested either. I have known from the beginning that figure skating is my sport.
Rauno Korpi confirms that her daughters have wanted to choose their hobbies very independently.
– Although I myself was a hockey coach and later also the head coach of Finnish national ladies ice hockey team, I haven’t pressed Kiira or Petra to change their sport. I have watched their success in the background. I have not been qualified for anything more, and by no means have I ever wanted to meddle with their coaching, Rauno Korpi says.
– Mother, Brita, has done enormous job by helping the girls and participating in the club’s money raising events, to make the hobby possible, Korpi thanks.
– Figure skating is a fine sport that you have to begin at very young age. Kiira got a good start, and she also could continue her hobby when we lived in Turku, where I coached club TuTo.
– Fortunately with figure skating it is a matter of just playing for quite some time, and that also helps to stay motivated. Now that the competitions have entered the hobby, Kiira is doing fine, because she isn’t scared of them. Many a good skater has joined the synchronised skating teams, because they can’t deal with the competition nervousness alone, father Korpi concludes.
Kiira Korpi, who is coached by Maaret Siromaa, doesn’t want to set too strict goals for her career. She says that 2006 Olympic Games in Torino is definitely a dream too far ahead.
– I don’t want to talk about that, because if I already decided to skate there, there wouldn’t be anything more in my life than just Torino, Torino, Torino…
This season will end in the games in Tallinn, after which the skaters will have their own closing banquet.
– The competition in Tallinn won’t be top-level, but it suits our spring, Kiira says.
She says that she has got to know skaters from other countries, and she keeps contact with them between competitions with email.
– Along with USA, also Japan and France are strongly represented, but Russian figure skating is not what it used to be these days.
Kiira is good with languages, she studies German in school (the more extensive course-alternative of two options), and thanks to her enjoying English and Swedish, she has got full 10s in her grades (out of scale 4 to 10).
– Before I went to school, we lived a while in Austria due to my father’s job. I went to the kindergarten for one year, maybe the German language stuck with me from there, Kiira thinks.
– I will be 15 in September. I go to a 8th grade of sport oriented secondary school “Sampo”, and I hope to continue to the sport oriented high school in the same place, too.
Even though the sport classes have 6 hours of sports per week, and Kiira is allowed to spend also two morning hours for her training, figure skating still requires hard work in addition to all that. During competition season and before World Championships she goes to ice every day, and twice on some days.
– I also have “dry” training about 4 times per week, going to the gym and dancing. I must improve my strength, muscles and speed.
– The movement needs to get more flowing and silent. There shouldn’t be any “scratchy” noises in the skating, Kiira describes.
– As her best feature Kiira thinks is that she doesn’t get nervous in competitions. She thinks also that the feature that needs most improvement is the stability in the technique and jumps.
And how do you take it when you lose?
– Can’t help it. I feel disappointed for a while, but I think it is no use to cry about what is over. You shouldn’t take losses too hard, you must enjoy your hobby. Big failures I haven’t had. And after the smaller ones I am quickly ready to join my friends as if nothing happened.
Kiira hasn’t even thought about quitting skating.
– Also my sister Petra is still continuing her hobby. And Elisa, who was in the same class as me through the entire primary school, is now in the synchronised skating.
When I ask Kiira to compare herself with her older sister, the answer is quite cautious.
– I suppose I am a little better. Maybe I have more gifts for this sport after all.
The World Championships shouldn’t have been in Kiira’s competition calendar in this season yet, but the success in Nordic Championships resulted in an invitation to Czech Republic.
– There were only a couple of weeks preparation time between the games, but it was great to be allowed to feel the atmosphere.
Kiira has thought about her future, but hasn’t decided yet what she would like to become.
– Figure skating may not give you the living. Of course I could join show skating in North America, I could try that for a year or two. A couple of girls in our club have been there, and they talk highly of the experience. You could make some money and you could travel at the same time, Kiira thinks.
– I haven’t thought of becoming an exchange student. Studying medicine could be interesting after high school. We’ll see about that later, she continues.
Once every winter Kiira, who also does snow boarding as a hobby, visits Lapland. In summers it is time to relax.
– Roller-skating, beach volley…
Kiira says she also reads and listens to music.
– Youth hits, and as my competition music: The Doors.