Kiira Korpi: "I have learned how to handle the pressure better!"


January 24, 2011
By Eva Maria Jangbro (EMJO)
Photo © Eva Maria Jangbro (EMJO)

As a Swede, I can say that Finnish figure skating is something we admire as opposed to Finnish hockey, which we have another relationship with. In Paris, at Trophée Eric Bompard (TEB), I met Kiira Korpi, whose dad used to be a hockey coach for ladies. Luckily, Kiira chose figure skating and not hockey and she is now one of the Finnish girls who have for sure put Finland on the figure skating map. For many years, skaters from non-traditional figure skating countries had to fight for their points and didn’t always get what they deserved. Susana Pöykio, from Finland, was one of them and she led the way and opened the door for Laura Lepistö and Kiira Korpi.

The first time I saw Kiira was at the 2006 European Championships, in Lyon, where she ended up in sixth place. It was her first Euros. I remember her very well and I think the men in the audience certainly did too. The 2010 TEB, in Paris, was no exception; that is, men were shouting, “Beautiful!” after her skate! Some may think this is an advantage—being beautiful—but people tend to hold higher expectations of Kiira and are perhaps not actually watching her performance.

So who is Kiira Linda Katriina Korpi? According to information found on internet she is a Finnish meatball, mashed potato-eating Fin who does Katanga yoga—except when she is busy figure skating.

After the Gala practice and before the buffet, I was lucky and got to chat with Kiira. She was, of course, totally thrilled about her first place finish:

I am so happy with the results even if the program was not perfect—I had a bad fall and wasn’t sure if I was injured—but I fought for [my program] and was rewarded.

Well congratulations even if you are a Finn!

Ha-ha. Thank you!

I do love Finnish figure skating .We need small Figure Skating countries to be accepted. I think you know what I mean. It is really nice that you finished in first place.

Yes I do know… Thank you.

I have visited your website. It is really nice. I had to see how the smiley would look like today. Were the smilies your idea? [Kiira has a mood status posted on her website:]

It was a good idea but no, it was not mine. Yesterday I thought, where is the biggest smiley!?

You didn’t look that nervous between the short and the long. You handled being in first position after the short very well. In the past, skating your long after a great short program has been a little shaky.

Well I think I have grown and I was ready to handle the pressure and win. I learned how to deal with the situation better because it is not easy going into the long after leading in the short. It is especially hard when you have to wait, but you have to get used to it. Here in the Grand Prix, it is different. According to the rules, in the short program, your skating order is according to world standings. In the free program, it goes according to short program placement [reverse order], so you have to wait if you are in first place after the short program. It is hard, but that is good practice too.

Was TEB the most important competition this season or is it Finnish Nationals?

For this year, I think [TEB] was the highlight. At Finnish nationals, we don’t have that many at the very top level anymore, so maybe I will be more relaxed. There is only Laura and me at the top level, but of course it is still competition and hopefully Laura can attend it.

Yes, I heard she is injured? Do you know if it is bad and what injury?

Well she has different injuries all of the time. Now, it is inflammation with her Achilles, but I am hoping she will be able to come to Finnish Nationals.

Are you are ok?

Yes I am ok. I have no big injuries or health problems; though my back is a little bit of a problem.

Your new programs… You have changed choreographers. Why a new one and why David Wilson and Shae-Lynn Bourne?

I wanted to change. I have had the same choreographer, who I love working with, since I was 13. I wanted to get some fresh ideas, go somewhere else, and get new inspiration. I met both of them—David Wilson and Shae-Lynn—at Yu-Na Kim’s Festa on Ice last spring. Shae-Lynn created the short program and David Wilson choreographed the free program.

Who chose the music?

[Shae-Lynn and David] searched and proposed the music, so they were not my ideas, but they suit me really well. I like them.

Have you seen Evita?

Yes, yes; it is really impressive.

Are you involved in the making of the dresses? Who design them?

I am a little bit. I have a Finnish designer who designs them and then I tell [the designer] if I like them or not. I think this year they are very well-suited to the music.

Back to your website… It is very eye-catching and very beautiful! How about the photos? How much were you involved in the making of these creative photos? It is like art!

Yes, it is like art. Well, we had this idea. We did not want to make the traditional figure skating site. We wanted to make something different. The designer suggested—well the first idea was to bring in Scandinavian things like nature. It was kind of hard to bring that in, so we did it in a studio the first time. I think the photos are like art too, but still modern.

It is like Finnish art for me. Also, you write on your website. When you fall, you have to imagine that you are a butterfly so it doesn’t hurt so much. In one of the photos, you have wings on your eyelashes. For me that was the butterfly image.

Oh yes, I see what you mean. We weren’t thinking of that, but that’s true.

I have read that you do Katanga yoga?

Yes, but I have been busy, so I haven’t been able to do it every week. I used to do it once a week and go to yoga class. It was different, with candles and Buddha, and it was so nice to go somewhere else. I do Pilates now. I use the Pilates machines which are more challenging.

What is the difference for you?

Yoga is more concentrating on you; with Pilates, it is more physically challenging. It is not so spiritual with, “Hummmmmmmmmmmmmm,” [meditation] and so on.

What are your plans after TEB?

First it is Finnish Nationals right before Christmas and then Europeans and Worlds, but I have to be prepared for the Grand Prix Final. I am the first substitute because I was fourth in the first Grand Prix. Since Alissa [Czisny] finished in third place here, she “took” my spot [the last GPF spot which Kiira was sitting in before TEB]. It is not the main goal; Euros and Worlds are.

How about shows? Do you have any figure skating shows in Finland?

No, just small ones and Disney on Ice. No really big ones; it is a shame.

In Sweden, we finally got a real figure skating show. You should be invited to Stockholm Ice. Laura Lepistö is invited.

Oh that sounds interesting. When is it?

It is after Worlds in April, so you can make it.

That would be nice.

Well, hopefully we will get to see Kiira there and perhaps she will be able to go back to Katanga yoga by then and can give me a lesson…


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