A small crowd can make a lot of noise!
It’s been another rainy day in Malmö, but a great one! The day started out with the ultimate excitement; the battle of the senior men. Last year's champion Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari against his own country man Valter Virtanen and of course the Swedes, mainly Adrian Schultheiss and Alexander “Sasha” Majorov. Or that was the thought anyway. But right before the first group entered the ice the announcer gave us the bad news: Adrian had withdrawn. He had pulled a muscle and was slightly injured.
“My boot came apart during practice last night”, he explained. “I was wondering why it was so hard to do the flip and Lutz; now I know. I'll be fine in a few days, but I have to buy new boots and break them in. I don't know how long that will take, but I've cancelled my participation in the Challenge Cup, I need to concentrate on getting ready for Worlds”.
This was really sad news, but the show at Nordics had to go on. The first skater out of ten was Valter Virtanen. Already a few seconds into the program it was apparent that this wasn't his day. He took a fall, then singled his Axel and then fell again. The steps and spins were good though and he fought to the end but was very disappointed and got only 38.31 points.
Ari-Pekka on the other hand was on! His program was near flawless, even better than at Europeans, and the presentations was convincing. His marks were miles above anyone else and he ended up winning the short program by 11 points. But Sasha Majorov didn't give up without a fight. He started with a combination and singled the Lutz, but somehow still managed to tuck on a triple toe and the rest of the program was fine apart from being a little off beat. But the Greek rhythm suits him and it's a fast and fun program. A well deserved second place to Sasha! In third place is the Swede Justus Strid, who now skates for Denmark and just might grab a medal. We'll know tomorrow!
There were only eight senior ladies and they were over almost before they began. Like Ari-Pekka, Viktoria Helgesson, Sweden, won the short program by a landslide. She skated beautifully to music from “the Phantom of the Opera”. Apart from a hand down everything flowed. She really worked the step sequence and was rewarded with 52.66 points. Linnea Mellgren of Sweden skated to “Romeo and Juliet”, and is in second place, Henriikka Hietaniemi of Finland is in and third.
The Novice boys were a fun and exciting to watch. Some had chosen to skate to rockier music and it was nice with a change. Yesterday we mentioned Mandus Thorman. At age 10 he is already a full fledged performer. In his long program he portrayed Charlie Chaplin. The cheering from the crowd was deafening, and not just because Mandus is a Swede but because he's a star. He went through his fun program and earned high component points. I had a short chat with him afterwards and he confirmed what we suspected the moment we saw him; he was the flower boy we wrote about in the report from the Swedish Nationals 2006.
Mandus is from Mörrum and has skated since he was 5 years old. His favorite program is the current Charlie Chaplin and he watched some old Chaplin clips on YouTube to be able to move like him. Mandus loves to skate and is fairly close to landing a triple Salchow, which would bring him one step closer to being like his skating idol:
“I like Stéphane Lambiel a lot.”
Mandus didn't medal at this year’s Nordics but he sure won an arena full of heart!
Marcus Björk, the local hero, skated to “Aladdin”. He has so much potential and walked away with the gold. The Finns Tino Olenius and Juho Pirinen got silver and bronze. Nicky Obreykov, who was third after the short program, finished fourth.
In the Novice girls it came as no surprise that Josefin Taljegård won the gold. She had a comfortable lead from the short program and widened the gap with her fast and happy feet. The program wasn't perfect but it was good enough to win convincingly. This girl is amazing! Johanna Wick hung on to her second place. She skated in a light pink dress and was pretty as a picture. She moves with such ease and did several combinations with double jumps. And the bronze went to Timila Shrestha, Finland, which means the placing from the short program held.
The last groups for the day to compete were the junior ladies. This was the most time consuming part since no less than 20 ladies participated. When all was said and done several hours later Joshi Helgesson was the winner by almost 20 points. The crowd loved her and wouldn’t stop screaming. I hope she heard it and felt the support. Isabelle Olsson earned her silver medal. Like many others she struggled with the jumps but she never gave up. The surprise was the bronze medalist; Anne Line Gjersem from Norway. Since Michael Chrolenko quit skating we were happy to see new stars on the Norwegian horizon.
The audience was a bit bigger than the day before. Not as many people work on weekends and there were more families and youth present. Only one side of the arena was open but even so the stands were not full. The crowd was loud though, and very supportive of all the skaters regardless which country they represented. I hope the skaters heard it and felt appreciated.
The day ended with the medal ceremony for the Novice girls, boys and junior ladies. Unfortunately it took so long to set up the podium that a large portion of the audience left before the ceremony began. But those that stayed cheered loudly for the winner in the Novice girls, Josefin Taljegård and the runners up Johanna Wick and Timila Shrestha. Two Swedish flags and one Finnish rose, as the audience listened to the Swedish National Anthem, “Du gamla du fria”. The flags were on the opposite side of the ice which looked a bit strange, but the skaters had an excellent view of them!
The boys’ podium held Marcus Björk as the winner and Tino Olenius and Juho Pirinen as second and third. This is where the flag confusion began. Seconds before the flags were supposed to go up there were still two Swedish flags and one Finnish. It took a while to fix the problem and then listen to the same Anthem again. But the confusion persisted when the junior ladies took the podium with Joshi Helgesson, Sweden, on the top, Isabelle Olsson, Sweden in second place and Anne Line Gjersem, Norway in third. There were cheers from the Icelandic section when the Norwegian flag gave way for the Icelandic one; they just look too much alike. Finally all the flags were in the right place and for the third time we heard “Du gamla du fria”. All the medalists skated around the ice and waved, which concluded today’s skating adventures. Tomorrow the fate of the junior men and senior men and ladies will be determined. Don’t go away!