Farewell to a colleague: Marina Johansson
May 20, 2012
By Mireille Geurts
As most of our regular visitors will know, Absolute Skating consists of a large crew of enthusiastic volunteers. People from all over the world, who love figure skating very much, join hands to focus on the many aspects of this amazing sport; the athleticism, the art, the skaters and the fans who watch them.
One of those crew girls was Marina Johansson of Sweden, her specialty being the synchronized championships. But in July 2010, Marina went missing. Since she had always stayed in close touch with her family, foul play was suspected. After a long search by the police, her family, friends and volunteers, her body was finally found this April, 2012.
This article is about Marina, what she meant to us, to Absolute Skating and to the figure skating world in general. She was someone who loved the sport very dearly and has contributed with so many good things to it.
In 2008 I went to the Swedish National Figure Skating Championships in
the city of LinkĂ¶ping. Here I met Marina. The accreditations were arranged
so that we could sit anywhere we wanted in the arena. My friend and I chose
seats close to the designated kiss and cry area, this being an excellent
chance to make close up photos. As we would find out during the day, we
were actually in the â€śrun- wayâ€ť of a few photographers who had chosen spots
by the boards, but had to go into the main hall during the resurfacing breaks,
to transfer pictures from their cameras to the computer. This meant that
they had to move over from one row to another, instead of just walking past.
One photographer actually got very grumpy because of that, but Marina, friendly
looking jokingly said â€śat least this way I get my exerciseâ€ť. (Later we did
move out of their way.)
We started chatting every time she had to walk by. It was a bit curious to her (as to many others) why I was there, not being Swedish, but she had heard of Absolute Skating through our Swedish crew girls. Through them I had heard of her as well. It didnâ€™t take long for us to start discussing camera details and set ups; what was the easiest way to photograph and why. You will know what I talk about, just put two photographers together and listen.
This aside, there was also the skating part; a passion we both shared. We had plenty to discuss, which is exactly what we did, over the next three days. When Kristoffer Berntsson quickly ran away after his skate, I missed the chance of talking to him. But Marina sent him a text urging him to come back out and meet the â€śmediaâ€ť.
Marina, being a figure and synchro skater herself until 1994, had stopped skating due to a knee injury. But the ice rink kept calling, and 2-3 years later she got a camera and started taking photos. Her own sisters competed in international competitions and from 1997 on; she travelled around the world to take photos of them and other skaters.
When we met, she was the official photographer for the Swedish Figure Skating Association, but she also sold pictures in the arena and through her own web site. Later on, she would also write for the ISU about the synchronized skating championships. This however, did not stop her willingness to contribute to the sport and after hearing that Absolute Skating had no one writing about, or taking photos of the synchronized championships, she offered to join in, and do this for us.
And so she did. For the next two years she volunteered and graced AS with her lovely photos, as well as interviews with the teams; offering us wonderful coverage of the championships. To see some of her work, follow these links:
Synchronized Skating Championships 2009
World Synchronized Skating Championships 2010
2010 World Synchronized Skating Championships: The Medallists - Team Rockettes, Marigold Ice Unity and Haydenettes
2010 World Synchronized Skating Championships: Interview with team captain Liselott Nilsson and vice captain Hanna Andersson of the Sweden1 team, Surprise
World Synchronized Skating Championships 2010: Interview with team captain Angelica Davids
of the South African team
She stayed in touch with us, and was always willing to help out when advice was needed, no matter if it was about knowing what to call certain synchronized skating moves for an article about a show she otherwise had no relation to, or on advice which lens to use for taking the best skating pictures. Sometimes no emails were exchanged in months, but sometimes we mailed daily, sharing figure skating as well as personal stories, as colleagues do during work. But then in 2010, it suddenly got too quiet.
Two years is a long time not knowing what has happened to someone. I often found myself thinking about Marina, checking the internet for news. I cannot even imagine how this must have felt for her loved ones and close friends. Absolute Skating wants to offer our heartfelt condolences to her family. Our memories of Marina are nothing but the best.
Thank you, Marina, for being a great photographer, interviewer, lover of the sport and most of all an always helpful and cheerful colleague. We miss you.
Update: Marina's family started a fund in her memory, with the purpose of promoting Swedish figure skating. On June 16, Marinaâ€™s birthday, the first annual recipient received the prize of 1200 â‚¬. The winners were Team Surprise, the Swedish top synchronized skating team and current World champions. Well deserved! The news was published on the Swedish Figure Skating Associationâ€™s website.