Text by Hilkka Tienhaara / photos by Sampo Rautamaa.
Here is the whole translation of last weekend’s Iltalehti article. I’m sorry for the mistakes 🙂 I also translated little boxes next to the main article. ã€€
Even walking was hard
Figure skater Kiira Korpi learned to appreciate things in a different way when she suddenly couldnâ€™t take for granted the main meaning of her life.
European figure skating championships, ladies free skating at the full Hartwall-arena in the end of January. Kiira Korpi is concentrating to her first jump when her skates suddenly hits themselves. She fells down and crashes very fast to the board.
The whole crowd sighs and thousands of Finnish flags go down but Kiira gets up. She holds her hips, bites her lip and limps to talk to the referee who gives her three minutes time to go on.
Kiira decides to go on. The first lutz is limbo but after that we see the fighter on the ice. Triple salchow – douple toe loop is excellent and gorgeus step sequence gets the audience to ecstatic cheering. After ending her program Kiira thanks and leaves the ice.
It has gone for four months from this dramatic falling. Kiira goes back to those black moments and says that the blades of skates just hit together and after that there was nothing to do.
“Human accident. Probably I was circling in too deep edge”
She says and admittes to afraid the worst a few seconds.
“My hips and knee were hurt but luckily I didnâ€™t hit my head. I have a bad experience of that six years ago. I fell down very badly in VierumÃ¤ki in a test skating and hit my head to the board so badly that I got a concussion.”
It was still quite close in EC that Kiira didnâ€™t collapse and start to cry only because of the shock. The couch rescued the situation and said calmly that now we have a little resting break but soon weâ€™ll continue.
â€It helped me to keep myself in a one piece and skate the rest of the program. Even though I could feel the support of the audience I realized later from the video how huge was the support of the audience.â€
Kiira showed her fighter additude and was finally fifth in the competition. â€I wonâ€™t give up easily. Iâ€™ve been like that since I was a child. Even though the falling felt awful I also got lots of guts. Failures only increase my motivation.â€
When they put the gold medal to Laura LepistÃ¶â€™s and the bronze to Susanna PÃ¶ykiÃ¶â€™s neck, Kiira celebrated their success with her friends on their seats. She thought that even participating to the EC was the victory to herself after the illness and insecure autumn.
â€Itâ€™s nothing away from me when the other skaters succeed. Laura and Susanna brought lots of honour to Finland and the whole sport. They were good representatives to the WC of this spring. For me that competition (WC) would have been very hard emotionally because I knew Iâ€™m not in the best condition. Iâ€™m ambitious but also a realistâ€, says 20 years old Kiira in a rarely mature way.
In the gala of EC Kiira enjoyed of skating and fascinated the crowd by her butterfly program. â€It felt so great when so many people came after competition to thank and congratulate although I didnâ€™t get the medal.â€ â€I have no fear of falling. Iâ€™ve learned that I canâ€™t think too much failures, I have to go on and get back to the ice as soon as possible. When I practiced to the Universiades, I got this odd feeling in the unlucky place in my free skating only couple of times. Then it vanished.â€
Kiiraâ€™s last year has been like a rollercoaster. Before dramatic moments in EC Kiira won the Finnish championship. Even though she has been on the top of Finnish skaters for many years, was this championship the first to her. Only two weeks before she wasnâ€™t sure if she can even participate to the competition. â€Finally I decide to participate but my expectations werenâ€™t too high. After hard autumn it felt that I had been years away from the ice and I understood how much I had missed there. I felt like yelling: Yee, Iâ€™m here!â€
In the beginning of autumn Kiira was in the shape of her life but suddenly she was forced to stay off the ice for two months. The illnes which proved to be the overloading of the feet muscle nerve system [? I have no idea what is â€jalkojen hermolihasjÃ¤rjestelmÃ¤n ylikuormittuminenâ€ in English!] and virus infection and it tortured and brought insecurity.
At the worst days Kiira couldnâ€™t even walk to the corner store without her feet cramping. Even from the nordic walking exercise she had to call home after 15 minutes to come to get her back by car.
Even though she had lots of supporters and the doctor kept the contact many times in a week, Kiira were anxious because they found no diagnosis to her illnes. On the other hand she was relieved that they didnâ€™t find any serious.
â€I learned to appreciate things in a different way when I couldnâ€™t take for granted the main reason of my life. Even though I have felt sorry sometimes for not having more free time, in the autumn I noticed how much I miss training. I understood how much I like skating and how big part of me it really is.â€
â€I already thought where I can get all the experience of succeeding if thereâ€™s no sport in my life. Where could I head my passion and energy? To leave the sport anyway didnâ€™t come to my mind even the walking was hard. Strong faith to recover and the support of close people helped me getting through this.â€
They donâ€™t know the exact reason for illness but Kiira supposes that probably her body made kind of stop with a delay. There were hard years behind: years of strict training, hard high school time, the matriculation examinations and the matriculation to the university. â€Basically everything was fine but then my body forced me to stop. It really tauhght.â€
But Kiira wasnâ€™t Kiira if she wouldnâ€™t look forward to the next season and the olympics. Because of WC results Finland got two places for women to the olympics but there are three really good skateres [IMHO four: Kiira, Laura, Jenni, Susanna]. â€We donâ€™t know the participants yetâ€, Kiira says but is heading to the future with trust.
Her choreographer just finished her new short program. They searched a good music with her coaches quite a long time. Finally they found a good one which Kiira likes: â€classical, melancholic, sensitive and full violin music with a dash of oriental exoticâ€. Free program is the same but they try to get more depth to the interpretation.
Good start with studies
After one week one age group will get the white graduation caps [the cap we get in Finland when we graduate from high school]. Kiira Korpi sighs and says that itâ€™s so lovely when she has all that behind. â€The high school matriculation exams were nothing compared to the matriculation of the university. I had to learn five books by heart.â€
Kiira was accepted to the university of Tampere to study economic science. Her main subject is corporate management and during this season she earned 35 credits. â€Iâ€™ve studied among skating basic courses and also got familiar in a legendary cafe [â€Alakuppilaâ€] of Tampere university.
So called student life hasnâ€™t take so much part in Kiiraâ€™s life but the May day [Vappu, the 1st may and the day before] she celebrated in her student overalls in the student house of Tampere. Kiira is happy that it has been easy to be in student rounds because not too many people come to comment about her skating. â€I can be in peaceâ€ Kiira smiles but then she remembers the exchange students from Japan. There are some of them in Tampere and Japaneses â€“ as well known â€“ admires this blond beauty of the ice. She has given many signatures for them.
Kiira doesnâ€™t worry what she is going to be when she is â€bigâ€. She thinks that the economic degree combined with top sports could be a quite good combination.
In autumn when her health act irregularly, studying brought something else to think. â€If your identity is only in sports, itâ€™s a risk. Even though the passion to the sports takes you all, you have to remember that thereâ€™s also other life. You have also to remember if you fail in sports, you are not bad as a human being.â€ â€It has been interesting to follow for example Janne Ahonen. There have been lots of other things in his life among sports like family but still it wasnâ€™t too easy to end his sport career.â€
Kiira feels herself lucky also because she is a figure skater, she has a possibility to study. The ice rink is close and she can fit her schedule because her sport is individual [not team]. The other situation is for example for alpine skiing athletes who have to go all around the world the whole time
Kiira is now learning a good balance between studies, sport and free time. The young lady doesnâ€™t feel that she has had to give up for something. â€When I was a teenager I runned between school, home and ice rink. My friends doubted if I even knew where was the central market in Tampereâ€, Kiira laughs. â€Iâ€™ve got so much in my life from skating that I couldnâ€™t ever even imagine.â€
I donâ€™t worry about the talks of my look
Kiira Korpi has been voted many times on the top in different inquirys. They have flattered her for example to a tender blond Finnish, a beautiful fairy and a genuine beauty who has no fake at all.
A year ago readers of Iltalehti chose Kiira â€The lady of the yearâ€. Immediately after that there came a news that Kiira was listed in a category of the most beautiful women to place 38 in the Annual Independent Criticâ€™s List. There are also a fan site even in Facebook where are over 10 000 fans. Mostly men.
Do you worry about these talks? â€No, Iâ€™ve used to those talks. On the other hand it feels nice but I still hope that sports would priorisite. They could stop all the sexiness votes.â€
Talking about men, do you have a boyfriend? â€No comments.â€
Can you even tell, what kind of man is your ideal? â€Sporty with sense of humourâ€
The dream of sponsors
The Association of Finnish Advertisers made a sponsoring barometer and it tells that the most famous sponsoring target in sports is Kiira Korpi. She is the dream of sponsors: fresh and luminous.
â€œI feels weirdâ€, says Kiira as a little bit confused. â€œIn the lights of medals Iâ€™m not the most succeeded athlete but of course there are lots more things in sponsoringâ€.
After next Olympics many sponsoring contracts will be on break. She wonder if any company is interested to sponsor because of the recession. Now she is working with Valio, Audi, Puma, Lumene and Marja Kurki.
â€œSponsors take very big part in sports especially in figure skating which is quite expencive sport. Ice time is not cheap and skating camps cost also.â€
Even though sponsors wait for a good behaviour from athlete, Kiira laughs and says that you donâ€™t have to be a â€œsupermanâ€. Kiira is well known as a smiling and positive person but she is also quite temperamental person who explodes once in a while. Itâ€™s easiest at home but she has done that also in the ice rink of Hervanta, inside the rock.
Favourites right now
Food: Grilled lax and new potatos
Artist: Amy Winehouse
Band: Kings of Leon
Actress: My almost namesake Keyra Knightley
Skater: Canadian ice dance couple Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
Vacation place: Nizza, because I will soon go there
Book: Harry Potter books, now Iâ€™m reading Puhdistus [Refinement] of Sofi Oksanen